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Drill rapper was ‘seriously contemplating’ making bomb for terror attack

A drill rapper who used his music to “glorify” so-called Islamic State (IS) killings was “seriously contemplating” making a bomb to use in a terror attack, a court has heard.

Al-Arfat Hassan bought knives and chemicals online that he intended to use for an improvised explosive device.

Hassan, 21, from Enfield, north London, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for possessing chemicals for a terrorist purpose.

One of his teenage fans, a 17-year-old from Leeds, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for failing to disclose his knowledge of Hassan’s terrorist activities.

Both also pleaded guilty to possession of a so-called Islamic State video with demonstrations showing the “gruesome” killing of prisoners.

The propaganda video provided detailed instructions on manufacturing explosives and killing people with knives.

Both defendants were charged with preparation of terrorist acts (under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2000).

Following two trials, at Leeds and Sheffield Crown Courts – the first of which ended in a hung jury, and the second discontinued – both defendants offered pleas to the alternative offences which were accepted by prosecutors.

Sentencing the pair at the Old Bailey on Friday, the judge, Mr Justice Baker, said he was satisfied they had “terrorist motivations”.

Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court heard last year that Hassan gained a strong online following of young Muslims under the name TS and the younger defendant became “drawn” to him through his music.

Prosecutors said both had “become heavily radicalised” by late 2021 and “supported an extreme Islamist ideology”.

Jurors were shown a video of Hassan in which he held a samurai sword and exchanged messages with another person stating he was prepared for martyrdom.

The court heard one of the knives he bought was of the same type used to carry out an execution featured in the Islamic State instructional video he and the youth had viewed.

Hassan also created drill music videos with lyrics referring to Alan Henning, a British man taken hostage and killed by Islamic State, and James Foley, a US journalist captured and killed in Syria.

In relation to the 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, the jury was shown evidence that he bought a knife and exchanged almost daily extremist messages and graphics over a number of months with Hassan.

Nick Price, head of the CPS Counter Terrorism Division, said: “Al-Arfat Hassan claimed to be a provocative digital music creator, but the evidence was clear that he had a violent, extremist mindset and was taking active steps to prepare to commit terrorist acts.

“Hassan said he wanted to kill thousands, and he had a plan and location in mind. His collection of knives and items to create an explosive device showed these were not idle boasts.

“The youth in this case had a fixation with killing in the name of religion. He told the court that he had been supporting Al-Arfat Hassan through a difficult time when in fact he was enthusiastically encouraging him to carry out a bomb attack.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Rees of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This case is a chilling example of two young people being radicalised, and accessing terrorist content online.”