The South Yorkshire Police officer who foiled a terror cell said today: “Any traffic officer would have done the same.”
PC Mick Eustis was on patrol on the M1 through Sheffield when he pulled over an ageing Renault Laguna between junctions 33 and 34 at Catcliffe and Meadowhall due to concerns about the car’s road worthiness.
When he the ran a check on the vehicle and established it had no insurance, he arranged for it to be impounded.
Unable to do more, he drove the men inside - Jewel Uddin, aged 27, and Omar Mohammed Khan, 28 - to Meadowhall train station where they were allowed to board trains home.
Only later, when the car was searched in a compound used by South Yorkshire Police, were a nail and ball bearing-filled bomb, powered by firework explosives, found in the vehicle along with a partially-assembled pipe bomb.
Uddin and Khan, along with Mohammed Hasseen, 23, Anzal Hussain, 24, Mohammed Saud, 22, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, all admitted preparing an act of terrorism at Woolwich Crown Court in London yesterday.
Judge Mr Justice Hilliard said the terrorists are facing ‘significant custodial terms’.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch PC Eustis quizzing two of the men after he stopped the car, plus images of their deadly weapons and police helicopter footage of the EDL demo they planned to bomb.
Modest PC Eustis said today: “I’m really pleased my actions that day have led to this result at court. I was in the right place at the right time, and thankfully my actions resulted in some dangerous individuals being taken off the streets.
“But any traffic officer would’ve done the same.”
Remembering the day’s events last June 29, PC Eustis said: “I was drawn to the vehicle’s ageing condition so I ran an in-car check that showed the vehicle was not insured.
“After I pulled the car over, the driver produced a temporary insurance policy and claimed to be the owner. So I conducted some immediate checks at the scene using my work BlackBerry.
“The driver couldn’t answer some of my questions and eventually provided correct details, proving he was not the owner and not insured to drive the vehicle.
“The car was then seized - which shows the benefit of mobile technology allowing us to conduct checks while out on the road.
“There was nothing that led me to suspect any wider offences, so I did not have the power to search the vehicle.”
The six-strong gang of terrorists had intended to detonate bombs at a far-right rally organised by the English Defence League in Dewsbury last year.
Their attack did not go ahead only because the rally finished sooner than the terrorists expected.
Police and security services had no intelligence about the planned attack, even though Uddin had been under surveillance in relation to another terrorist plan.
Along with the bomb-making equipment, 10 copies of a hate-filled note addressed to the ‘enemies of Islam’, the Queen, and Prime Minister David Cameron, were found in the car boot.
Marcus Beale, Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police which led the probe, said the terrorists were ‘dangerous’.
“A lot of people would have been at risk of very serious injury or even loss of life had the attack been carried out,” he said.