Muslim convert behind Hyde Park plot ‘pondered terror attack on Queen’s funeral’

A homegrown terrorist considered launching a mass gun attack on the late Queen’s funeral after converting to Islam in prison, a court has heard.

Edward Little, 22, rejected the plan as “too late” and instead decided to target a Christian preacher at Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park, the Old Bailey heard.

He discussed his plans including his desire to get hold of a Mac-10 submachine gun and AK-47 assault rifle with extremists in encrypted chats on the Threema messaging platform.

At one point, he wrote: “I don’t think there has been an attack in the UK with guns so a semi-automatic rifle would send a even stronger message.”

On September 18 last year, Little identified the Queen’s funeral – due to be held at Westminster Abbey the following day – as a possible target.

It was suggested that “tyrants of the earth” would be there, to which Little responded: “I was just thinking that but unfortunately it’s too late.”

Days later, on September 23, Little was arrested en route to buy a gun for £5,000 having taken a taxi from Brighton to London.

Little, from Pelham Street, Brighton, pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and appeared at the Old Bailey on Monday by video-link from HMP Full Sutton in Yorkshire.

Opening the facts of the case against him, Duncan Penny KC said: “The defendant is an Islamic extremist who planned to murder the Christian preacher Hatun Tash at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.

“The defendant planned to murder those who were with Hatun Tash, and any police officers or soldiers who were in the area.”

UK-born Little was said to have converted to Islam at Cookham Wood Young Offender Institution in Kent and at HMP Deerbolt in County Durham, after he turned 18.

Last summer, he downloaded extremist propaganda including copies of the al-Qaida publication Inspire.

In his chats on Threema, he referred to Hasham Tash as an “evil witch” and said he could shoot her “point blank” and “everyone with her”.

He suggested that with the money he had and his ability to get more weapons he “should strike a bigger target”.

He spoke of wanting to buy a Mac-10 “so I can spray it at them and then use pistol for police”.

But he added that the “problem with the macs is that they are too quick and it runs out very quik”.

Little said he would wear a camera so he could live-stream the attack.

On September 17, Little revealed that he “100%” had a “brother in prison” who would be joining in the “operation”.

He said he would travel to London for reconnaissance and see if it was best to “have us hit separate targets”.

On September 23, Little agreed to pay a taxi driver £300 to take him from Brighton to Lewisham, south London, saying money was no problem.

On his arrest, he was carrying a rucksack with £5,000 in cash, a passport and two mobile phones.

Little declined to answer questions in police interviews but his mood changed when he was shown a YouTube view of the preacher.

He launched himself from his chair across the table at an officer, swinging repeatedly with his fists before being restrained.

He went on to admit assaulting the officer at Newbury Police Station last September 28 and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

At the hearing on Monday, Little also pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to a fellow inmate at Belmarsh prison on April 3.

Little attacked the victim with boiling water mixed with sugar and two razor blades for “disrespecting” his religion.

The defendant had been convicted of 14 offences in seven separate cases, including for robbery, having a knife and drug dealing, dating back to 2017.

Mrs Justice McGowan adjourned sentencing to a date to be fixed for a report to be prepared on Little’s future risk and for him to be given the opportunity to attend court in person.

Read more: The Queen’s Speech: The Counter-Terrorism Implications

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Categories: Brighton, Hatun Tash, Hyde Park Corner, Muslim Convert, Queen Elizabeth, Queen's Funeral