Terrorism suspect Kazi Islam 'was researching extremism'

Kazi Islam - Terror trial Old Bailey - court drawing Image copyright Julia Quenzler

A terrorism suspect accused of grooming a vulnerable man so he would kill soldiers has said his interest in extremism was for "research purposes".

Kazi Islam allegedly tried to persuade 19-year-old Harry Thomas to buy bomb ingredients and carry out an attack like the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

He told the Old Bailey he tried to brainwash Mr Thomas as an "experiment" to see if it could be done.

Mr Islam, 18, from east London, denies preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

The prosecution said his plan was stopped when his home was raided last July and his computer and two mobile phones were seized.

Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Islam said his interest in extremism was "purely for research purposes and to understand the political side of my religion".

'Brainwashed and radicalised'

"I was studying the reasons behind it. It was mainly the illegal occupation, as extremists would put it, of Muslim lands in Iraq, Afghanistan," he said.

He said he wanted to find out why Fusilier Rigby had been murdered outside Woolwich Barracks in May 2013.

Mr Islam said his "experiment" with Mr Thomas was inspired by Nicky Reilly, who was behind a failed suicide bomb attack in Exeter - and who, like Mr Thomas, has Asperger's syndrome.

"When I saw what he [Reilly] had done I wanted to conduct an experiment to see how this individual had become radicalised," he said.

"Previously he had no belief, no religious convictions, and I wanted to know how he became brainwashed and radicalised and this made me choose Harry to be a placebo to conduct the experiment."

He added: "I just wanted to see if he would succumb to it. I was waiting for him to say if he had made purchase of the materials that were discussed and had he done so, I would have told him 'no', I would have told him what I was doing."

Extremist material 'silly'

Asked why he downloaded a document called "How to make Semtex", Mr Islam said: "I was doing research.

"I was looking at terrorist atrocities, foiled plots in the UK. I was studying about how easily accessible these materials are - I did not have the intention of making it."

He described extremist material he found online as "silly" and said he was "laughing at it".

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors said Mr Islam befriended and then "ruthlessly exploited" Mr Thomas in an attempt to make him buy ingredients for a pipe bomb and kill two soldiers.

The case continues.

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