In an earlier court hearing, 19-year-old Haroon Syed from west London had pleaded guilty to planning terrorist acts between April and September 2016. He said he’d researched and attempted to obtain weapons including a suicide vest and a machine gun, reported The Press Association after his sentencing Monday. Potential targets in the United Kingdom’s capital he’d identified included Queen Elizabeth II’s London residence, Buckingham Palace, the busy shopping district of Oxford Street and an Elton John concert in Hyde Park that was held on September 11 last year — the 15th anniversary of the U.S. terror attacks.
The teen intended to carry out “an act of mass murder in this country,” said Judge Michael Topolski as he sentenced Syed at London’s Central Criminal Court to a minimum of 16 and a half years in prison on Monday.
Authorities arrested Syed last year after he engaged online with British security service officers posing as a militant named Abu Yusuf. In conversations with the undercover officers, the teenager reportedly revealed his intention to “do martyrdom” after causing “damage” with weapons.
His defense lawyers said Syed had been vulnerable to radicalization after the arrest of his older brother, 23-year-old Nadir Syed, in 2015. Nadir Syed had planned to carry out an Islamic State-inspired beheading on Remembrance Sunday, a day in November when fallen troops and military servicemen and women are recognized in the U.K. He was sentenced to a minimum prison term of 15 years last June.