Sahayb Abu trial: Alleged terror plotter tells court he was studying Alan Titchmarsh gardening videos

February 24, 2021

An aspiring rapper accused of plotting a terrorist attack using a gladiator-style sword founded an agricultural charity and was studying Alan Titchmarsh gardening videos, he has told a jury.

Sahayb Abu has admitted buying the 18in sword, a knife, a combat vest, balaclavas and gloves before his arrest on 9 July last year - but denied he was preparing for a terror strike during the pandemic.

The 27-year-old, from Dagenham in east London, told the court the items were "props" for a rap video.

Sahayb said he had founded a charity called Islamic Growth to provide irrigation for crops in Somalia and wanted to be a vegetable farmer.

But he first needed to become famous in order to get the money and the attention for his cause and was planning to launch a parody drill rap act on TikTok.

He recorded a rap in which he said: "Allah arrest him, my shank [knife] penetrate ya, got my suicide vest, one click boom and I'll see you later."

In conversations with an undercover officer, he talked of assassinating a rival imam and had also researched the US embassy, the Israeli embassy, the Indian embassy, the Russian embassy and the Saudi embassy in London, the court heard.

His older brother, Muhamed Abu, 32, from South Norwood, London, is accused of failing to inform police of his brother's plans after the pair were caught on CCTV looking at swords on an iPad at a takeaway in east London.

Giving evidence in his defence, Sahayb told the Old Bailey: "I had seen children below the breadline, Marcus Rashford was doing his thing, we've all heard about it.

"I was going to learn how to grow crops, there's a science about what soil you need, what minerals, the weather, and this was my charity, this was the basis of my charity and there was a GoFundMe as well.

"It was going to be funded through my charity Islamic Growth but you can't make money unless you're famous.

"I was trying to get famous first with my music and my comedy and my parody and then link back to my charity.

"It was all about getting famous first with the music. I had a long road ahead of me, getting the [online] views and then link it to my charity and eventually you know people will start funding me."

He added: "Honest to god this is what I had planned for my life, I swear to you.

"I live in Essex, there are a lot of green fields, allotments where mostly elderly people they grow things and I was going to learn from them and books and videos. I'm not no Alan Titchmarsh but I was trying to get there.

"I was watching Alan Titchmarsh videos, snipping buds, every day you are learning stuff, you are learning for ever. I just wanted to learn how to help people in the UK and in Africa.

"It would be based in the UK, I wanted to help children in the UK as well."

Sahayb told the jury he had come up with a rap persona called the "Masked Menace" but insisted: "It's not just rapping and drill but singing as well, that's what I like to do.

"I know I have that talent but I am not putting it to any use. I wanted to get famous and not just use it for myself but use it for other people as well. That's what I wanted for my life - music and charity.

"I wasn't going to attack no one. I don't know how to kill. I don't see myself attacking another person. I see myself growing and living amongst people and celebrating life.

"Taking life is never going to happen, can't happen, it's impossible."

The trial continues.

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