An ISIS supporter who wanted to “blow St Paul’s Cathedral to the ground” in a terror attack to kill “a lot” of innocent people has been jailed today for a minimum of 14 years.
Safiyya Amira Shaikh, a 37-year-old mother, sent chilling messages as her plan was thwarted by two undercover police officers posing as husband and wife extremists.
She has been described as the first female British jihadi to plot a suicide bombing and was on course to become the UK’s first female homegrown suicide bomber.
She admitted preparation of terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications at a hearing at the Old Bailey in February.
The charge states that Shaikh, from Hayes, west London, made contact with someone who she thought could build two bombs, and went on a reconnaissance trip in London to scope out the cathedral for security and the “best place” to plant an explosive device.
‘Her intention was to kill herself and as many other people as possible,’ a court heard.
Shaikh met with a contact and gave two bags to a woman “with the intention and belief that explosive devices would be fitted into the bags”.
However, the contact was an undercover anti-terror police officer.
During a sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey on Monday, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC described Shaikh as “a violent extremist who pledged her support for Islamic State”.
Ms Morgan said: “She engaged with others, who she believed to be of a similar mindset, to instigate and plan a terrorist attack involving the use of improvised explosives to attack St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel nearby.
“In furtherance of her attack plan, she visited the cathedral to assess its security arrangement and the best place to detonate a bomb.
“She stated that her intention was to kill herself and as many other people as possible.”
The court heard she confessed online: “I would like bomb (sic) and shoot til death.
“But if that not possible I do other way. Belt or anything. I just want a lot to die. InshaAllah.”
She said the plot was the “best opportunity of my life”, and described to the undercover officer how she could borrow her daughter’s non-Islamic clothes in an effort to avoid suspicion.
Shaikh was born Michelle Ramsden and converted to Islam in 2007 after being impressed by the kindness of her Muslim neighbours, the BBC previously reported.
But she later became isolated and apparently rejected mainstream Islam, and began to court the ideology of ISIS.