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PhD Student Convicted of Terror Offense for Constructing Kamikaze Drone for ISIS

A mechanical engineering graduate is facing a long spell in jail after he built a drone in his bedroom for ISIS.

A student with a doctorate in mechanical engineering has been convicted of a terrorist offence after a so-called kamikaze drone intended for Islamist terrorists was found in his bedroom.

Mohamad Al-Bared, 26, was found guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorism by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday.

When his trial began last month, prosecutor Michelle Heeley, KC told the jury when Mr. Al-Bared’s home in Coventry was raided the police found evidence suggesting he was designing and building the unmanned aerial device in his bedroom.

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The prosecutor said it was clear from encrypted online chats and other digital material he supported ISIS, intended to make a “single-use” video-transmitting fixed-wing drone for terrorist purposes, and to travel to Africa via Turkey.

After he was found guilty, Judge Paul Farrer, KC told Al-Bared: “You have been convicted of an offence of the utmost gravity. The court is going to have to consider whether the appropriate sentence is one of life imprisonment.”

Judge: Long Prison Sentence ‘Inevitable’

“A long prison sentence is the inevitable consequence of that but the length and nature of that sentence is a matter for careful consideration, and the court will take that decision having received input from the Probation Service,” he added.

An undated image of a drone built by PhD student Mohamad Al Bared and found in the bedroom of his home in Coventry, England. (West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit/PA.)
An undated image of a drone built by PhD student Mohamad Al Bared and found in the bedroom of his home in Coventry, England. (West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit/PA.)

Al-Bared, a student at the University of Birmingham, lived at home with his parents but was arrested in a car at the same time as the raid took place. His mobile phone was also seized.

He was working on a doctorate about laser-based micro-drilling at the time of his arrest.

A 3D printer was found at his home which the police suspected was used to make parts for the drone.

Evidence gathered from various electrical devices belonging to Al-Bared showed he was a supporter of ISIS and the drone was being built to help the terrorist organisation.

The jury was shown the drone—contained in a large transparent plastic bag—and the prosecutor said it was equipped with landing gear and a small digital camera.

Drone Was ‘Manufactured to Deliver a Bomb’

Ms. Heeley said: “It had all the components required for it to fly. We suggest it was being manufactured to deliver a bomb … to fly into IS enemy territory and deliver a chemical weapon or some other kind of device.”

Al-Bared had filled in an application form to join ISIS and had also set up a registered company.

The jury heard evidence to suggest the idea for building the drone was “somewhat inspired by the design of the Tomahawk missile.”

The jury also heard evidence that messages found on one of Al-Bared’s electronic devices referred to fuses, mechanical detonators, and an “explosive” head.

Ms. Heeley told the jury: “He is literally reporting back to someone about what it is that he is doing. What drone for legitimate use needs an explosive head? What does need an explosive head is a drone that has been designed on a missile. That’s the real reason this drone is being built.”

When he gave evidence, Al-Bared denied supporting ISIS and said he only made the drone for his own research purposes.

He also claimed he only researched ISIS online so he could argue against its aims with others at his local mosque.

Kamikaze drones, sometimes known as loitering missiles, are devices that can carry an explosive payload and can be fired at a target remotely.

In June, Israel Aerospace Industries announced it had reached an agreement to sell its Rotem Alpha model—which is sometimes described as a kamikaze drone—to three unnamed NATO countries, shortly after agreeing a separate deal with Estonia.

PA Media contributed to this report.

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