Sheffield dentistry student had instruction video for 'would-be terrorists' and bought ball bearings, court told

The scene in Sheffield, after Awan's home was raided by counter-terrorism police
The scene in Sheffield, after Awan's home was raided by counter-terrorism police

A Sheffield dentistry student, whose brother was a 'suicide bomber' had bought ball bearings and was in possession of an instructional video for ‘would-be terrorists' that provided demonstrations on how to stab, garrote and behead, a court heard.

Opening the case against Mohammed Abbas Awan at Sheffield Crown Court today, prosecutor, Simon Davis, said it is the Crown’s case that Awan was in possession of a significant volume of ideological material, including videos that ‘glorify and promote the activities of Islamic State’.

Mr Davis told the court how three days before Awan was arrested in connection with the alleged terrorism offences in Sheffield on June 1 this year, he had made an order on eBay for 500 ball bearings and a sling shot; and was ‘researching the injuries that could be caused to human beings by the use of a slingshot using ball bearings’.

He was also in possession of a book called How To Survive In The West which aims to get the reader to support the actions of Islamic State; and includes information on bomb making, survival techniques and a chapter on ‘primitive weapons’ which offers advice on handling such weapons, including slingshots, before ‘graduating on to more sophisticated weapons,’ explained Mr Davis.

“The Defendant purchased a slingshot as well as ball bearings, which the book recommends to be used as shrapnel for a home made bomb in a later chapter on bomb making,” continued Mr Davis.

He added: “It is plain that a jury would be entitled to come to the conclusion that the Defendant was using the document as a reference guide for what he was later to follow through. The Prosecution say that the Defendant was knowingly in possession of the document which was of a kind likely to be useful for a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

Mr Davis told the court that materials held by Awan also included a video entitled 'Commander Hamzah Zinjibary's Training Camp' which demonstrates in graphic detail tactics for 'terrorists using an assault rifle' as well as physical violence including: stabbing, garroting and beheading.

He said: "This is an instructional video for would-be terrorists and tells people how to shoot, kill, kidnap and behead - it is brutal and graphic.

"This was also in the possession of the defendant on a memory stick.

"The prosecution say this recording was likely to be useful for a terrorist.

"On or before June 1 2017 he was mainly engaging in researching an attack in the UK.

"The defendant was found in possession of a significant volume of mindset material which shows he was aligned with extremist views or ideology.

"In 2016-17 there was an acceleration of this mindset material and this type of activity on the internet was becoming more frequent.

"On May 29 he ordered a sling shot and ball bearings and looked at how ball bearings might injure a human being.

"You might ask yourself why that may be.

"He also researched how to make gun powder and the like."

Awan had digital devices seized from his Sheffield residence in Dun Street, as well as an address in Huddersfield.

The defendant's brother, Rizwan Awan and his partner, Sophie, had travelled from Manchester Airport to Istanbul, Turkey on May 17, 2015 and appears to have joined Isis, the court heard.

The brothers were then in contact with each other in August 2015, before reports emerged that Rizwan killed himself as a suicide bomber in Iraq in March 2016.

Awan claims one of the devices, a memory stick that contains some of the material the case is concerned with, including 'How To Survive In The West' belonged to his brother and he had kept it for 'sentimental reasons'.

But the prosecution argue Rizwan Awan's own digital devices had been reset to factory settings and wiped clean before he travelled to Syria.

Asked about his purchase of ball bearings Awan, told police it was nothing to do with terrorism and claims to be a keen angler and hunter who was planning to use them to hunt rabbits with a catapult.

Such a method is "more of a theoretical possibility than a practical one," the court heard.

Awan denies three terror-related charges; two of possession of a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. He also denies a single count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts or assisting others to commit such acts.

The trial continues.