UK

Parsons Green: Alleged bomber 'trained by IS in Iraq'

Court drawing / sketch of Ahmed Hassan Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Ahmed Hassan, 18, denies attempted murder and causing an explosion likely to endanger life

The man accused of the Parsons Green Tube bombing told officials months before the attack that he had been "trained to kill", a court has heard.

Jurors heard that asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan spoke to Home Office officials in January 2016 - 20 months before the bombing that injured 30 people.

In an interview, Mr Hassan said he had been taken by force by the Islamic State group in Iraq and given training.

He denies attempted murder and causing an explosion likely to endanger life.

The Old Bailey jury heard that Mr Hassan originally told police he was responsible for the bombing.

They also heard graphic descriptions by victims of the explosion on the District Line on 15 September, 2017.

One spoke of "a furnace engulfed in flames" when the device - made with materials partly sourced from Asda and Aldi - exploded at Parsons Green station during London's rush hour.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCCTV allegedly showing Ahmed Hassan, 18, carrying hydrogen peroxide, a component for his homemade bomb

Alison Morgan, prosecuting, told jurors that during a Home Office immigration interview in Croydon in January 2016, Mr Hassan was asked if he was, or had been part of a terror group in Iraq before he sought asylum in the UK.

The jury heard he told officials that he had been taken by force by Isis (the Islamic State group), who had threatened to kill his uncle and brother if he resisted.

Asked in the Home Office interview whether he had had any training from the Islamic State group Mr Hassan allegedly said: "They trained us on how to kill. It was all religious based".

But he denied the Islamic State group had sent him to Europe to work for them.

The court also heard that a worker for the charity Barnardos, who spoke Arabic, allegedly caught him listening to a "call-to-arms" song.

The lyrics translated as: "We are coming with you to the slaughter in your home/country."

'Fear and panic'

Describing the attack on 15 September, one passenger, Aimee Colville, spoke of "shards of glass flying through the air and then flames".

Jurors heard she could "smell herself burning and saw her hair was on fire".

Thirty people were injured in the incident: some badly burned and others injured in the "stampede" as they fled in fear and panic, the Old Bailey was told.

Alison Morgan, prosecuting, told the jurors that Mr Hassan packed a bomb with screwdrivers, knives and nails to cause "maximum carnage" on the rush-hour Tube.

Jurors heard he bought metal items from Asda and Aldi supermarkets the day before the bombing.

The court heard how Mr Hassan also researched the ingredients for TATP explosives and bought sulphuric acid on Amazon.

To avoid suspicion, he allegedly used a friend's address for the delivery of the largest component - hydrogen peroxide.

The device, which was on a timer, partially exploded very shortly after the crowded train arrived at Parsons Green Station during rush hour.

Ms Morgan said: "There were approximately 93 people in the carriage when the device detonated.

"The partial explosion created a large fireball. Some in the carriage were caught by the flames and sustained significant burns.

"Many ran in fear and panic. They were fortunate. Had the device fully detonated, it is inevitable that serious injury and significant damage would have been caused within the carriage."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thirty people were injured when the device exploded on the train

The court heard that, after the explosion, hundreds of people in the station tried to escape down a narrow staircase.

Asylum seeker

Mr Hassan had got off the carriage at Putney Bridge Station before the bomb went off. He was arrested at the Port of Dover the next day.

Ms Morgan told the jury that when first arrested and questioned by police, Mr Hassan accepted that he was "responsible for the device" and told them there "may be a few milligrams traces" of explosives at his home address.

She said the device was made from the volatile chemical explosive TATP and contained 2.2kg of sockets, screws, bolts, nails, knives and screwdrivers.

Jurors were told that Mr Hassan had arrived in Britain in the back of a lorry via the Channel Tunnel in October 2015.

He told authorities he was born in June 1999 in Iraq, but had no identity documents. He gave his name as Ahmed Hassan Mohammed Ali.

He claimed asylum, and from 2016 lived with foster parents in Cavendish Road, Sunbury in Surrey.

At the time he allegedly planned his attack, his asylum claim was still outstanding, the court heard.

SD card

The court heard that on the day of the attack Mr Hassan left his home shortly before 7am and took the train from Sunbury to Wimbledon.

In a toilet on the concourse, he set the timer on the device before boarding the District Line, four stops from Parsons Green.

Ms Morgan told jurors: "At any point, should he have wanted to, he could have stopped the timer. He could have pulled the wires out of the device. He could have stopped the detonation.

"The CCTV footage from inside the carriage shows that at no stage did the defendant reach inside the bag to do anything."

The court heard that after "calmly" walking away from Putney Bridge station, Mr Hassan boarded a bus towards Earl's Court where sat on the top deck at the front.

CCTV footage allegedly shows him glancing out of the window as he passes Parsons Green station.

He is seen to remove the SD card from his mobile phone, chew on it and stuff it down the side of the bus seat, where it was later discovered by police in a destroyed state.

Mr Hassan bought a backpack and clothes and was seen on CCTV at Ashford, wearing a blue Chelsea football shirt, the court heard.

He boarded a train and arrived at Dover at around 14.30 BST where he is said to have bought a mobile phone and viewed the BBC News website which showed images of the scene he had left behind at Parsons Green.

The case continues.