Sheffield student to be sentenced for terror offences

Sheffield University dentistry student, Mohammed Awan
Sheffield University dentistry student, Mohammed Awan
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A Sheffield University student whose brother was an Islamic State suicide bomber is to be sentenced today for terror offences.

Counter terrorism officers swooped when Mohammed Awan, 24, who was studying dentistry before his arrest at his flat in Dun Street, Kelham Island, in June, bought 500 ball bearings online.

Extremist material he possessed advised how to use ball bearings in home-made bombs.

Awan, originally from Huddersfield, was found to possess a 'significant volume' of extremist material, including advice on how to be a 'sleeper cell' in the West, jurors in his trial last week were told.

He initially tried to justify his purchase of the ball bearings by saying he was a keen angler and hunter who was planning to use them to hunt rabbits with a catapult, a trial at Sheffield Crown Court heard.

The defendant's brother, Rizwan Awan, and his partner, Sophie, travelled from Manchester Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, on May 17, 2015, to join Islamic State.

The brothers were in contact with each other in August 2015 and Rizwan later killed himself in a suicide bombing in Iraq in March 2016.

A jury heard Awan had downloaded a terrorism manual which included headings such as Survival Techniques, Modern Weapons, Bomb Making, The Jihad Begins and Escaping for Safety.

A memory stick found in his bedroom contained a 36-minute video featuring a senior al Qaida leader, who was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in 2016.

In the film, he called on young Muslims to join Isis and featured graphic footage of how to kill and kidnap victims.

Items recovered by counter-terror officers included 11 mobile phones, 16 memory sticks, and around 60 Sim cards, containing a host of terrorism-related material.

Last week, a jury convicted Awan of two counts of possessing a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and one of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts or assisting others to commit such acts.

Following his conviction last week, Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, Head of Investigations at Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said: “Whilst we do not know the full details of Awan’s intentions, officers intervened swiftly before Awan could put any plans into practice.

"Public safety is, and always will be, our priority when making operational decisions.

“We urge the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police by calling the police, in confidence, on 0800 789321 or in an emergency by dialling 999.

"Suspicious activity is anything that seems out of place, unusual or just doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life."

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