Birmingham & Black Country

Zahid Hussain guilty of fairy lights bomb plot

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Media captionFairy lights bomb plot: Zahid Hussain guilty of terror preparation

A man who planned to target a railway line with a homemade bomb of fairy lights and a pressure cooker has been found guilty of preparing for an act of terrorism.

Zahid Hussain, 29, filled the appliance with shrapnel and made "improvised igniters" from the festive decorations.

CCTV shown to the jury in Birmingham showed him climbing down a storm drain yards from the West Coast Mainline.

He became radicalised reading books and websites in his bedroom.

In the days running up to his arrest Hussain had made repeated visits to a section of the main high speed train line that links London to Birmingham, which the prosecution said was to research a possible attack.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Hussain was spotted climbing down a storm drain near the West Coast Mainline

The defendant had tried to build "a number of explosive devices", including a pressure-cooker bomb and fairy-light igniters.

The court was told a mistake in the building of the IED meant it would not have exploded, but that his intention had been to cause "devastation".

He was arrested on 9 August 2015 after reports of a man carrying a hammer and behaving suspiciously near his home in Alum Rock, Birmingham.

After being taken to a police station, officers found handwritten recipes for explosives, a modified fairy light and a hand-drawn map showing a drainage chamber.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Police found a homemade bomb of a pressure cooker and Christmas lights

They also discovered books that contained instructions on sabotage and guerrilla warfare tactics. A page on how to derail a train had been marked.

His computer showed he had an interest in so-called Islamic State and events in Syria.

"In his own words he had become 'bedroom radicalised' - turned into a radical by material he had accessed in his own bedroom," prosecution QC Annabel Darlow told the court.

Police said Hussain, who was estranged from his wife and two children, had been acting strangely and suspiciously in the months leading up to his arrest.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Hussain was found in possession of weapons after his arrest

"He became withdrawn and isolated from his family and spent hours both day and night on his computer, where he bought most of the items he used to construct the devices," the force said in a statement.

Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of counter terrorism for the West Midlands, said: "There was no evidence of any intended target or specific attack.

"But by its very nature, this could have been an extremely dangerous device."

Hussain, of Alum Rock, Birmingham, is already detained at a secure mental health unit.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

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