Two men with links to Sheffield that have gone on trial accused of terrorism offences were attempting to manufacture a device that would allow them to detonate explosives in a driverless car, a court heard.
During the opening of the trial today, jurors heard how Sheffield resident, Farhad Salah, told a contact in December last year that he was attempting to find a way to carry out a ‘matyrdom operation in a car without a driver.
He added: “Everything is perfect only the progaramme is left.”
Salah, 23, is alleged to have been ‘attack planning’ with his co-accused Andy Star, whose role was to conduct ‘small test-runs with explosives’.
“The prosecution allege that Farhad Salah and Andy Star had decided that improvised explosive devices could be made and used in a way here in the UK that spared their own lives preferably but harmed others they considered to be infidels,” said prosecutor, Anne Whyte QC.
Salah and Star, 32, are both alleged to be supporters of the terrorist organisation, Islamic State (IS).
Both men, who are originally from Kurdistan, are each accused of a single count of engaging in the preparation of an act of terrorism, which they deny.
Salah arrived in the UK in 2014 and had still not been granted asylum by the time of his arrest on December 19.
It is not known when Star arrived in the country, but he applied for asylum in 2008, and was granted asylum and indefinite leave to remain in 2010.
Ms Whyte told Sheffield Crown Court it is the Crown’s case that Salah was becoming ‘increasingly desperate to do something in the cause of Islamic State’.
She said he was frustrated that he was not able to go out to the Middle East due to his immigration status.
Police raided the homes of both defendants at around 6am on December 19.
Ms Whyte told jurors that when armed officers raided Salah’s address at the Fatima Community Centre, 105 Brunswick Road, Burngreave he was told he was being arrested because it was suspected that he was involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.
She said: “He was told that this related to suspected involvement in a plan to carry out an attack involving explosives in the near future at an as yet unidentified location.
“He was cautioned and replied: ‘I’m confused about all this’.”
Amongst other items, the police found on the bedroom window sill a polystyrene container within which was one piece of fuse , some cotton wool and a quantity of black powder.
They raided Star’s home at the Mermaid Fish Bar in Sheffield Road, Chesterfield around the same time. When arrested he asked officers: ‘what is this about,’ explained Ms Whyte.
She added: “During the course of his exchange with officers, Star commented that he regularly visited friends in Sheffield and that if he wasn’t working he was normally there.”
The court heard how among the items seized were various tubs and bags, containing powders and other substances, as well as cylinders made from plastic and foil, homemade fireworks, lengths of copper piping and a wine bottle containing sulphuric acid.
‘Several partially discovered constructed explosive devices’
Sarah Wilson, a Senior Forensic Case Officer working at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory at Fort Halstead in Kent, was asked to analyse a number of the items seized from the homes of Salah and Star.
Ms Whyte told the court that in respect of the Mermaid Fish Bar where Star worked and lived, Ms Wilson had concluded there were ‘several partially constructed explosive devices, a number of already functioned devices, a quantity of viable low explosive material and improvised pyrotechnic fuses’.
“In total adding all the separately located substances up, there were some 506g of viable low explosive material.
“Such material will burn when ignited and if suitably confined say within an enclosed pipe, can be made to explode,” said Ms White.
She added: “After appropriate testing, she [Ms White] was also able to identify various precursor chemicals from the exhibits seized.
“Precursor in this context means chemical substances that can be used for legitimate purposes, but which can also be misused to manufacture homemade explosives.
“Such substances included sulphur, carbon, sugar, potassium nitrate, sulphuric acid, glycerol, dextrin, isopropanol and sodium carbonate.”
The polystyrene container found on Salah’s window sill contained 9g black powder and a piece of fuse, Ms Whyte told the jury.
She added: “There was also a slightly dirty looking ball of cotton wool....Ms Wilson concluded that the grubby piece of cotton wool was in fact a ball of improvised nitrocellulose and therefore an explosive material.
“It is known as a secondary high explosive which will burn fiercely if ignited.”