Sheffield man jailed over driverless car terror plot would have had 'no hesitation in causing loss of life'

“You would have had no hesitation in causing loss of life or the infliction of terrible suffering,’ a judge told a Sheffield man as he jailed him for over a decade for a failed terror plot.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 4:55 pm
Police activity around the Fatima Community Centre on Brunswick Road in Burngreave, Sheffield, following Salah's arrest

It took a jury over 15 hours of deliberation to find Farhad Salah guilty of preparing to commit acts of terrorism, following a five week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

During this morning’s hearing, Judge Paul Watson QC jailed Salah for 15 years, with an extended license period of three additional years, due to the ‘significant risk of serious harm’ the 24-year-old is deemed to pose to the public.

Judge Watson told the court that the picture of Salah police had been able piece together after seizing his mobile phone during raids at his home at the Fatima Community Centre, Burngreave in December 2017 was of someone ‘who had become wedded to extremist ideology and was preparing to take action to give effect to those views’.

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Salah was jailed for 15 years during a hearing held today

“By the verdict of the jury, that action was to be something which involved killing people, seriously injuring people or, at the very least, causing very serious damage to property. Given that your chosen method was to achieve your aims by the use of explosives, the risk of causing death or serious injury, is obvious,” he said.

Counter-terrorism police also recovered a small amount of explosive material from Salah’s property, the court heard.

Judge Watson said that while Salah’s preparations to carry out an act of terrorism, the specific target of which has never been discovered, were still in their ‘infancy’ when police arrested him ‘there can be no doubt’ what his intentions were.

He said: “You were in contact with other extremists, you were viewing material on social media which depicted utterly depraved and sickening imagery, said to be carried out in the name of the extremist cause which you had espoused….your attitude to extreme violence and loss of life, sometimes in unimaginably horrifying circumstances, indicates clearly to me that you, had you carried your preparations through to conclusion, would have had no hesitation in causing loss of life or the infliction of terrible suffering.”

Police activity around the Fatima Community Centre on Brunswick Road in Burngreave, Sheffield, following Salah's arrest

Due to the extended license period imposed by Judge Watson, Salah must serve two-thirds of his 15 year sentence, instead of the normal half, before he can be considered for release.

“I have no doubt that you are someone who poses a significant risk of harm to the public. I have no idea when, if ever, your opposition to liberal democratic society will subside. While ever it does persist, you remain a danger,” said Judge Watson.

The court was told how Salah, who worked as a barber in Stocksbridge after arriving in the country from Kurdistan in 2014, would most likely be deported at the conclusion of his sentence.

During the course of the trial, the Crown said Salah wanted ‘to do something meaningful to prove his allegiance to IS (Islamic State)’.

In a message Salah sent to an online contact, he revealed his plan to carry out a terrorist plot using a driverless car.

"My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver everything is perfect only the programme is left," he said.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict in the case of Salah’s co-accused, Andy Star, 32, of Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, who was accused of the same offence.

They were the second jury to try the pair, and Judge Watson confirmed a third trial would not be sought in Mr Star’s case and recorded a not guilty verdict.

Samuel Green QC, defending, said Salah still does not accept that he is guilty.

Mr Green rejected claims from the Crown that Salah had played a ‘leading role’ in the terror offence, and described their suggestion that Salah had ‘groomed’ Mr Star with his extremist ideology as being ‘unsustainable’.

“His offending was categorised by ineptitude. He had, not even on the prosecution case, got beyond the most rudimentary stage; in terms of preparation, in terms of his more grandiose proclamations on social media,” said Mr Green.