When one thinks of radical Islamic terrorism, romance isn’t typically part of the equation. However, a recent thwarted terror plot in the United Kingdom revealed a disturbing nexus between the two.
According to the U.K. Times, a 37-year-old Sudanese refugee named Munir Hassan Mohammed met and developed a relationship with 33-year-old Rowaida el-Hassan on the Islamic dating website SingleMuslim.com.
The relationship that began in 2015 and grew throughout 2016 has now resulted in the loving couple facing justice in court after being caught in the plotting stage of an Islamic State group-inspired home-made bomb or ricin poison attack in or around London.
Mohammed had lied in his online dating profile by claiming to be a British citizen who worked in the oil industry, when in reality he was a refugee working in a food processing plant who was planning to conduct a “lone-wolf” style terror attack.
Nevertheless, in his search for a wife and partner to bear his children, he came across Hassan, who held a master’s degree in pharmacology and shared her “professional knowledge” of various chemicals with Mohammed to help him along with his planned attack. Not surprisingly, both shared a radical ideology and passed Islamic State group propaganda back and forth online while they “fueled each other’s beliefs,” according to the prosecutor.
“Munir Mohammed appears to have met Rowaida El-Hassan, a qualified pharmacist, through a Muslim dating website,” prosecutor Ann Whyte told jurors, according to the U.K. Sun. “Their communications with each other demonstrated a rapidly formed emotional attachment and a shared extremist ideology.
“They exchanged materials and views at the time, we say, Munir Mohammed was planning to perform an attack of his own, motivated and inspired, no doubt, by what he had seen and heard on social media,” she continued.
While the couple’s relationship flourished, Mohammed busied himself with collecting the materials needed to construct his homemade bomb — as directed by Hassan — and at the time of his arrest in December 2016, had gathered together nearly all of the necessary components and instruction manuals, according to the U.K. Telegraph.
“This is a case which reflects the age in which we live,” Whyte told the jury. “It demonstrates the relative ease with which acts of terrorism can be prepared, thanks to the internet.”
“The prosecution allege that Munir Mohammed had resolved upon a lone wolf attack and that Rowaida El-Hassan was aware of his engagement with such a plan.”
Hassan was not only aware of Mohammed’s plot, but actively assisted him in pursuing it by sharing her knowledge of chemicals along with giving him money and other support, such as providing him with car insurance, the prosecution argued.
The plot reached a concerning point in August 2016 when Mohammed reached out via social media to what he thought was an Islamic State group commander going by the name Abubakr Kurdi.
The formerly lonely would-be jihadist pledged allegiance to Kurdi and the Islamic State group and offered up his services for “a new job in the U.K.,” obviously an indication he was ready to participate in a terror attack.
When Kurdi had not given Mohammed the go-ahead by September, Mohammed got in touch with him again and spoke in easily deciphered code to request instructions on making “dough” for “Syrian bread,” and later came into possession of a video with instructions on manufacturing ricin by November, though it is unclear exactly where that came from.
The jihadist couple’s trial for plotting a terror attack in the U.K. will continue for now. It is unknown what sort of sentence they will receive if found guilty.