Man guilty of trying to buy hand grenade to blow up east London police station
Mohammed Chowdhury, 24, of Bethnal Green, was found guilty on Wednesday of attempting to possess an explosive with intent to endanger life or property. At the time of the offences, Chowdhury had been in breach of a suspended sentence for waving an axe at a man outside a Tube station. Having been caught on CCTV, Chowdhury appeared to direct his rage against the police.
The Old Bailey heard the likely target for his grenade attack was Bethnal Green police station in east London. Chowdhury was stopped because the weapons dealer was in fact an undercover police officer. While he was in prison awaiting trial, Chowdhury revealed to family members what he intended to do.
In a phone call with his mother, he said: “I don’t care about the judge or the police and that. I wanted to hurt one of them, innit. I was getting annoyed.
“If I would have got that, I would have chucked it at the station, innit, I don’t care.” Prosecutor Alistair Richardson told jurors: “When he tried to buy that hand grenade, he was intending to use it to endanger lives, or cause serious damage to property.”
On January 31 last year, the undercover officer known as Gary was tasked to make contact with the defendant, known as Buyer. He sent a message: “I understand u need some merch?”
The defendant replied: “yes. I’m interested in three grenades.” On being told the cost was GBP300 each, Chowdhury replied: “I need 3 for GBP900.”
Later, he inquired about other weapons but Gary told him they would focus on grenades first. On February 5, they met at a coffee shop in Wanstead, east London, where Chowdhury, seemingly flustered, said he could only get GBP300 for one grenade. They arranged to meet at Leyton Tube station to make the trade with another undercover officer.
Asked if he knew how to handle a grenade, Chowdhury said: “Yeah, take it and like 30 seconds and then you chuck it or something like that.” Asked if he wanted the “real thing”, he replied: “Yeah.” After armed police swooped to arrest him, Chowdhury asked: “This isn’t a joke, is it?
Can you be a bit lenient? I’ll pray to God and promise never to do anything like this again.” In search of his flat Metropolitan Police seized a number of digital devices and found evidence that Chowdhury had downloaded and viewed a number of documents containing recipes for making explosive substances and information on how to create explosive devices.
There were also a number of hand-written notes found in Chowdhury’s address, which included details of chemicals and explosives and diagrams copied from the manuals he had downloaded onto his phone. The 24-year-old was charged with attempting to possess a grenade and four counts of possession of documents likely to be of use to a terrorist – all relating to the documents that were found on his phone.
Chowdhury pleaded guilty to possessing the documents on November 18, and following a trial, he was also convicted of attempting to purchase the grenade. He is due to be sentenced on March 23.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command said: “Chowdhury downloaded a number of extremely concerning documents and manuals, containing details of how to create and deploy explosives and lethal weapons. What’s more, he then made very serious attempts at trying to get hold of a hand grenade. “These are extremely serious offences and the public are undoubtedly safer following this investigation and outcome.
“This case is a reminder to everyone that the threat from terrorism remains and I want to remind the public that their continued vigilance and support is needed.
“I would urge anyone who sees or hears anything suspicious to contact police, no matter how small or insignificant they think it may be – it is better to let us know so that we can take a look and take any action as appropriate.”
Additional reporting by PA Media.