ISIS supporter, 36, guilty of plotting to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral and hotel

An ISIS supporter has pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb St Paul's Cathedral and a hotel.

Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, admitted preparation of terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications at a hearing at the Old Bailey in London.

The charge states that Shaikh, from Hayes, Middlesex, made contact with someone who could prepare explosives and went on a reconnaissance trip to scope out the historic site and a hotel as locations to plant bombs.

She prepared the words of a pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State terror group, also known as Daesh, between August 2019 and October 2019.

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Shaikh also shared terrorist documents via groups using the encrypted Telegram messaging app over the same period.

The defendant, who wore black robe, spoke quietly as she entered her guilty pleas before Mr Justice Sweeney on Friday morning.

Mr Justice Sweeney ordered pre-sentence reports ahead of sentencing on May 12.

The judge ordered that the defence should serve any psychiatric report by April 3.

The encrypted Telegram messaging service had become ISIS' app of choice for its members and their supporters to spread propaganda, communicate with each other and plot attacks.

Last year, a joint initiative between Telegram, other social networks, and the EU law enforcement agency Europol led to one of the biggest crack downs to date on channels linked to the groups.

Nearly 5,000 accounts and more than 26,000 items, including videos and communication channels deemed to be terrorist propaganda, were shut down.

Experts said ISIS had turned to other messaging services after the Telegram crackdown.

Last week, a Kurdish leader in Iraq claimed ISIS is bigger than ever and its jihadists had millions of pounds to fund a new wave of attacks.

The terror group suffered heavy losses as recent US-backed campaigns in Iraq and Syria sent its remaining fighters into hiding or on the run.

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