A British man of Pakistani origin was found guilty of multiple terrorism-related offenses by a court in Britain as jihadist terrorism and dissemination of extremism continue to mount a challenge for law enforcement authorities in the United Kingdom.
The man, identified as 49-year-old Asad Bhatti, from southeast England’s Redhill town in Surrey was arrested and charged in January 2021. Based on what Bhatti revealed to the police after his arrest, a search operation was carried out in the area which led police to a bomb-making facility.
Court found Bhatti guilty on two counts of possessing an article for the purpose of terrorism. He was also found guilty of three counts of making or possessing an explosive substance under suspicious circumstances by the Old Bailey court in London on Friday.
The quantum of the sentence against Bhatti is scheduled to be pronounced on April 25 by London’s Old Bailey court. Until then, he will remain in the police custody.
“The case against Bhatti was strong, I am glad the jury found him guilty today,” Detective Chief Superintendent Olly Wright, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) in Surrey, told a group of reporters.
“There was clear evidence of his extreme Islamist ideology and the danger he posed. He clearly hated those whom he considers do not follow his version of Islam, and he made a range of derogatory comments towards those he considers to be ‘unbelievers’,” he said.
A Laptop to be fixed and ‘concerning file titles’: How Bhatti’s terror saga unfolded?
Asad Bhatti took his laptop into a shop to be fixed where a member of the staff found some of the file titles on his laptop named with ‘concerning file titles’, which he reported to the authorities.
As the investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) proceeded, the ‘concerning file titles’ led to the discovery of ‘concerning documents’, which suggested Bhatti’s interest in explosives and making explosive devices.
“I am especially grateful to the member of the public who recognised the risks and took steps to call the police. This allowed Counter Terrorism Policing to stop Bhatti’s progress in manufacturing explosive devices which could otherwise have caused significant harm to the public,” Wright added.
Following the discovery, Bhatti was arrested and a police search was carried out at his home in Redhill and at a storage container he rented.
What all the Police discovered after Asad Bhatti’s arrest?
In the storage unit, officers found chemicals, chemistry equipment, electronic circuitry, and even an improvised explosive device.
At his property, items including a USB stick containing guides to make explosive devices were seized, the court was told.
Bhatti was also found to be in possession of manuals he compiled and wrote himself.
He had spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on making explosives, shooting techniques, and hand combat, along with manuals published by others on making explosives and combat.
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A handbook that included the subject ‘Jihad and Martyrdom’ was also found, the jury was told. This resulted in a suspicion that the possession of all these documents was for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation, or instigation of an act of terrorism, Surrey Police said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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