Junead Khan, 25, of Marlow Avenue, Luton, was sentenced to life imprisonment—to serve a minimum of twelve years—today for using his job as a delivery driver to scout out an attack on American troops stationed at Lakenheath in Britain. Khan had gathered materials on bomb-making and browsed Amazon for a knife like that used by Mohammed Emwazi (Abu Muharib al-Muhajir), the Islamic State’s British video butcher, widely known as “Jihadi John,” who was killed in a drone strike in November 2015. Khan, who was arrested on 14 July 2015 with his younger uncle, Shazib Khan, 23, intended to fake a road accident and then attack those who came to assist. Junead and Shazib were found guilty of terrorism offences for their plans to travel to Syria and sentenced to seven years each, with an extended period of five years on licence.
Both Junead and Shazib, Bangladeshi in origin, had come to reject democracy, said the Justice during sentencing, believing that the shari’a, god’s law, was “the only legitimate law,” an axiomatic rejection of democracy. This is a concept called hakimiyya, developed by Sayyid Qutb, and central to the Jihadi-Salafist worldview.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) records: “On 11 May 2015 Junead Khan had started work as a delivery driver. This work brought him near to armed forces bases including USAF bases in Norfolk.” Within two months, Junead had formulated his plot for mayhem and been arrested.
Junead and Shazib had been discussing travelling to Syria as early as August 2014. Junead had a copy of A Brief Guide to the Islamic State, the widely-lampooned travel guide to the caliphate published in 2015 by Siddhartha Dhar (Abu Rumaysah al-Britani). Junead had in his bedroom a list of currency exchange-rates under IS rule and had compiled a list of the clothing he would need, disguised as clothing needed for umrah (pilgrimage), though it contained gear needed for cold weather like boots and gloves.
Shazib had also bought clothing and equipment—a rucksack, gloves, combat trousers—in preparation for moving to the caliphate. And it was Shazib who was found, via KIK messenger, to have been in contact with an IS operative, where he discussed his aspiration to join IS and to “seek shahada (martyrdom)”.
The IS operative Shazib was in contact with was Junaid Hussain (Abu Hussain al-Britani), and it seems that Hussain redirected at least Junead’s plans away from travelling to Syria to committing a terrorist atrocity at home.
Via the encrypted SureSpot app, Junead spoke to Hussain, on 5 July 2015, about his idea to fake a road accident before getting out to attack people directly, and carrying a bomb:
Hussain said: “I can get you addresses but of British soldiers” to which Khan replied “that could also be possible”.
Hussain added: “Most soldiers live in bases which are protected. I suppose on the road is the best idea. Or if you want akhi (brother) I can tell u how to make a bomb.”
Khan then told Hussain: “When I saw these us [sic] soldiers on road it looked simple but I had nothing on me or wouldve [sic] got into an accident with them and made them get out the car.”
Hussain replied: “That’s what the brother done with Lee Rigby.”
[Hussain] went on to say he would send Junead Khan a manual for making a “pressure cooker bomb,” adding: “It’s best to have at least pipe bombs or pressure cooker bomb in a backpack in case something happens—so you can do isthishadi (suicide) bomb in case they try arrest you.”
Junead responded to this, “Yes brother Mujahid (jihadi) style, accident than [sic] attack”.
Junead’s mobile telephone was shown to contain instructions on how to make a pressure cooker bomb and sent an email on 7 July 2015 through the Amazon UK website to “an Italian company suppliers of the Ontario SP1 marine combat knife in which he asks how long delivery of the knife would take and whether they deliver to the UK,” CPS reports. “This make of knife had been included in a ‘wish list’ that the police recovered from Junead Khan’s bedroom.”
Shazib admitted to wanting to support the establishment of an Islamic state—and messages exchanged with friends showed Shazib saying they all had a “role to play” and that he wanted to help “by any means”. But Shazib denied wanting to become a fighter for IS, saying he wanted to aid the re-establishment of the caliphate by providing money and food, not violence.
Hussain, a Brit, was killed in a drone strike on 25 August 2015 near Raqqa. Hussain was one of IS’s most prominent propagandist-recruiters and has been associated with remotely-controlling a number of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in the West. After Hussain and his friend Reyaad Khan were struck down, Prime Minister David Cameron said both were “involved in actively recruiting ISIL sympathisers and seeking to orchestrate specific and barbaric attacks against the West, including directing a number of planned terrorist attacks right here in Britain”. It seems Junead’s plot was one such.
UPDATE: On 9 December 2016, Junead’s sentenced was altered to twenty years, rather than life, with five years on license. The court was told that Khan opened the file on bomb-making “only once”; that while he had looked for a knife with which he might murder American troops based in Britain, he never placed an order; and that he had travelled closely to U.S. military bases in East Anglia, including RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, but he had never deviated from his assigned delivery route. “There is no doubt about the heinous nature of the crime, which Junead Khan formed an intention to commit,” the judge said. “In terms of steps actually taken, he did not carry his intention far.”