Barnardo’s staff offered support after teenage asylum seeker found guilty of bombing
A “devious” teenager is facing years in jail for the Parsons Green Tube bombing which injured 51 passengers.
Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan, 18, plotted to cause carnage in central London under the nose of the anti-terrorism Prevent scheme.
He secretly made 400g of “Mother of Satan” explosives while his foster parents were away and packed the device with 2.2kg of screwdrivers, knives, nuts and bolts.
The Old Bailey heard he wanted to avenge the death of his father in Iraq and was “disappointed” when the bomb only partly detonated in a huge fireball.
But Hassan (pictured) said he only wanted to create a fire to fulfil a “fugitive fantasy” of being chased around Europe by Interpol.
It can now be reported he told a psychologist he was inspired by Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible action films.
A jury deliberated for just over four hours to find Hassan guilty of attempted murder on what Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said was “overwhelming evidence”.
The court had heard Hassan told Home Office officials he was trained by Islamic State “to kill” after he arrived in Britain in the back of a lorry in 2015.
He was referred by Barnardo’s and Surrey social services to Prevent but kept his murderous plans a secret.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “I describe Hassan as an intelligent and articulate individual that is devious and cunning in equal measures.
“On the one hand he was appearing to engage with the programme but he kept secret what he was planning and plotting.”
Mr Haydon said it was “good fortune” that the bomb did not fully detonate and kill and injure many passengers.
A review of Hassan’s dealings with Prevent is under way, he said.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said there were “lessons to be learned”, but also commended police, the CPS and security services.
He said: “This case is a bleak reminder of the devastating consequences of radicalisation.”
The court had heard Hassan was taken in by foster parents Penny and Ron Jones MBE, and excelled at Brooklands College in Weybridge where he studied media and photography.
But the “shy and polite” young man harboured anger at Britain for bombing Iraq even as he pursued his ambition to be the new Sir David Attenborough.
His college mentor contacted Prevent after he said it was his “duty to hate Britain” and received a WhatsApp message about an IS donation.
Katie Cable became concerned again just two months before the bombing when he texted her: “But your country continues to bomb my people.”
And in early September he told her: “It’s almost better to be back in Iraq. It’s better to die because you have heaven.”
Mr and Mrs Jones, who did not give evidence, also contacted social services amid “significant concerns” for his mental health during that summer.
The couple were on holiday in Blackpool when Hassan assembled the ingredients for homemade explosives in his bedroom in Sunbury, Surrey.
He used his student of the year award of a £20 Amazon voucher to buy one of the key chemicals online.
On the morning of September 15 last year, he left his home and caught a train to Wimbledon carrying his bomb inside a Lidl bag.
He was captured on CCTV going into the station toilets, where he set the bomb to blow in 15 minutes, before boarding the District line.
He got off the train one stop before the bomb partially exploded on the floor of the carriage at Parsons Green.
Moments before, 93 commuters were reading newspapers and sipping cups of coffee.
They ducked for cover and scrambled to escape when a ball of fire rolled down the carriage.
Twenty-three passengers suffered burns, with some describing their hair catching fire and their clothes melting in the blast.
And 28 more suffered cracked ribs and other crush injuries in the stampede to get out of the platform via a narrow stairway.
Meanwhile, Hassan destroyed his phone and changed into a Chelsea shirt as he fled London with more than £2,000 in cash but was picked up by police at the Port of Dover the next day.
Giving evidence about why he planted the bomb, he said: “It became kind of a fantasy in my head.”
Hassan told jurors he lied about having contact with IS to get asylum in Britain and have the chance of a “better life”.
The defendant, who hung his head in the dock, will be sentenced next week.
Barnardo’s staff offered support for shock of model asylum seeker’s deceit
Ahmed Hassan was one of hundreds of child asylum seekers helped by Barnardo’s, many of them fleeing horrors of war in Syria.
The children’s charity has offered support to staff left shocked by Hassan’s deceit as they worked to give him a better life in Britain.
Hassan was illegally smuggled into Britain in the back of a lorry in October 2015 and was placed in a hostel before being fostered.
He had claimed to be a 16-year-old Iraqi, but one Barnardo’s worker said he appeared “very mature” for his age.
Zoe Spencer accompanied him to his immigration interview in January 2016 when he told Home Office officials he had been trained to kill by Islamic State (IS).
She felt “disheartened” and “sickened” by what Hassan said about IS, and stopped the interview fearing he did not understand the question.
The next day, the charity referred him to the Counter Terrorism Unit and the Prevent programme.
He went from being a “shy” youth with only basic English language skills to excelling at college while keeping his bomb plot secret.
In his Old Bailey trial, Hassan said he never had anything to do with IS and made the story up to help his asylum claim.
Asked why, he said: “Because I came from a wealthy safe area in northern Iraq in Kurdistan and if I told the truth my only reason to leave the country was to further my studies – I felt I had to make up something strong.
“In the Jungle in Calais people used to talk about these things and make up stories.
“I never came across a refugee who said he would tell the truth when he arrived in the country.”
Counter-terrorism chief Commander Dean Haydon has said it was “quite rare” for extremists like Hassan to come into Britain under the guise of seeking refuge.
Barnardo’s supports more than 480 children in refugee families that have fled war in Syria, finding sanctuary in Northern Ireland as part of the Government’s Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme.
The charity works intensively alongside families to help settle and support them to become independent and integrated into their local community.
Barnardo’s also works with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and refugee children through other Barnardo’s services, including fostering and the National Counter Trafficking service.
On the Parsons Green case, a spokesman said: “Barnardo’s followed strict processes and procedures in swiftly alerting the appropriate authorities over security concerns to try and ensure they were dealt with properly.”
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Metropolitan Police / PA Wire.