British mother who converted to Islam before becoming UK’s first female suicide bomb plotter got ‘cold feet’ over threat to blow up St Paul’s Cathedral, court hears
- Muslim convert Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 37, kept ‘having doubts’ about the plot
- But she said she did not want to disappoint two ‘friends’ she was conspiring with
- She had also gone through the early stages of getting fitted for a suicide vest
A homegrown Islamic State supporter who wanted to ‘blow St Paul’s Cathedral to the ground’ in an Easter terror attack was getting ‘cold feet’ and would never have gone through with it, a court has heard.
Muslim convert Safiyya Amira Shaikh, a 37-year-old mother from Hayes in west London, kept ‘having doubts’ about going through with the plot, but said she did not want to disappoint two ‘friends’ she was conspiring with.
Shaikh was said to have become distressed following her arrest when it was disclosed to her that those two friends were actually undercover police officers.
The Old Bailey heard Shaikh carried out a reconnaissance mission to the central London landmark in September 2019, but pushed the date of the attack back from Christmas to Easter because she ‘had doubts’.
She had also gone through the early stages of getting fitted for a suicide vest, saying she wanted to carry out a mass atrocity before becoming a martyr.
However, she cancelled a subsequent meeting with the undercover officers in October as she ‘started to get doubts’, causing concerned police to swoop in and arrest her.
Defence counsel Ben Newton said: ‘This particular terrorist act would never have actually happened.
‘Three people were involved in this plot, and the other two were undercover police officers.
‘There was no bomb, and there never would be.
‘On evidence before the court, there were clear indicators Safiyya Shaikh had cold feet and wouldn’t go through with it.’
Shaikh, wearing a hijab, wept as her defence counsel described her ‘life of pain and loneliness’, and disclosed she suffered a ‘truly traumatic childhood’.
Mr Newton said his client went to great lengths in her efforts to please people, even travelling to Pakistan to get married against her will, before backing out at the last minute and being sent home to the UK in disgrace.
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