Muslim convert admits London Oxford Street terror plot

Image source, Social media
Image caption,
Lewis Ludlow appeared at the Old Bailey via a videolink from prison

A man has pleaded guilty to plotting a terror attack on London's Oxford Street and raising money for terrorism.

Lewis Ludlow, 26, planned to hire a van and hit pedestrians and also targeted Madame Tussauds and St Paul's Cathedral, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

He pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey and is due to be sentenced on 2 November.

Ludlow, who also used the name Ali Hussain, had hoped to kill up to 100 people.

A spokesman for the CPS said he had been under 24-hour armed police surveillance.

Ludlow, from Rochester, Kent, first came to the attention of police in 2010 when he attended a demonstration led by radical preacher Anjem Choudary and his banned Al-Muhajiroun group.

When Ludlow was arrested in 2015, Islamic State group material was found on his electronic devices but no further action was taken.

He had also been in contact with Junaid Hussain, an IS fighter from the UK who was killed in drone strike in 2016, the prosecution said.

Police also observed Ludlow at Al-Muhajiroun group demonstrations, where he was seen with, or near, Anjem Choudary and Lee Rigby's killer Michael Adebowale.

Image source, CPS
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Ludlow claimed he was travelling to the Philippines as a sex tourist

In January, Ludlow bought a ticket to fly to the Philippines but he was stopped at the airport and his passport seized.

He claimed he was going to the country as a sex tourist but was found to have been in communication with a man named Abu Yaqeen in an area with a significant IS presence.

In March, Ludlow sent him money via PayPal and created the Facebook account Antique Collections, which he was alleged to have used as a front to send money to south-east Asia for terrorism.

On 16 March, Ludlow went online to establish whether there was a police station on Oxford Street, before setting out to take pictures of the shopping area.

He took a picture near to the Oxford Circus Tube station and then a second one outside the Disney store.

Later he photographed Madame Tussauds and a bus shelter map of the area around the tourist attraction.

The images were stored in an encrypted application on his phone shared among IS supporters.

Image source, CPS
Image caption,
Ludlow made detailed notes of possible targets in London

When police searched Ludlow's home, they also found torn-up notes detailing when the targets would be the busiest.

The first note read: "Madame Tussads [sic]. Oxford street busiest time between 11 - 12 particularly Fridays. St Paul's Cathedral. Shia temple... Further locations scouted for the Kil [sic]."

A second read: "Crowded London Areas, Oxford Street - long road with no bollards or barriers preventing a van mounting the pavement. Busiest time is between 11am - 12pm with Saturday being the busiest day.

"It is a busy street it is ideal for an attack. It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack."

Two further notes referred to accommodation and van rental.

In a communication found on one of his phones Ludlow, who did not hold a driving licence, said: "Driving isn't easy Only reason why I never learnt is because its expensive plus a bit scared of crashing."

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Ludlow took photos of Oxford Street
Image source, CPS
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He also travelled to Madame Tussauds on Baker Street

The CPS spokesman said: "A mobile phone belonging to Ludlow was found in the storm drain of his home and contained photographs he had taken in March on a trip to London.

The phone also contained videos in which Ludlow stated his hatred of unbelievers and his desire to establish Sharia law.

Ludlow, who appeared at the Old Bailey via videolink from HMP Belmarsh, also pleaded guilty to setting up Facebook and Paypal accounts which the CPS said he used to fund fighters based in the Philippines.

He had been previously questioned by police about his links to Anjem Choudary and the banned Al-Muhajiron group.

Ludlow also admitted raising funds for terrorist purposes but denied preparing a plan to travel to the Philippines to join jihadists there. That charge will remain on file.

Image source, CPS
Image caption,
Ludlow swore an oath of allegiance to IS

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