Sahayb Abu trial: Terror plot accused 'wanted to be famous rapper'

image copyrightMet Police
image captionSahayb Abu sent videos of himself rapping to his brother

A man who wanted to become a rapper has denied buying an 18-inch (46cm) sword for a terror attack, saying he had only wanted to be "famous".

Sahayb Abu, 27, from Dagenham, admits buying the sword, as well as a knife, a combat vest and balaclavas but denies they were for a terror attack.

His brother Muhamed Abu, 32, from Norwood, south London, is also on trial at the Old Bailey.

He is accused of failing to disclose Sahayb's activities.

The court has previously been shown videos of a masked Sahayb rapping about bombs and eliminating opponents.

Giving evidence, he told jurors he had wanted to "create a rap character" that would make people "cry with laughter" through "rap parody and comedy".

He said the name of his "persona" was the "Masked Menace" and that he hoped to get famous through his music and that his videos would get noticed and lead to sponsorship.

"I'm trying to become somebody", he added.

'Depressed alcoholic'

The court heard that Sahayb discussed guns with an undercover police officer he met through a Telegram app chat group for Islamic State supporters.

Giving evidence, he told jurors that when growing up in Ilford, he had the Koran "battered into him" at home with "fist, hand, belt",

The local culture also included listening to grime artists and he said: "I just wanted to be a musician, a rapper, famous. I wanted to be famous instead of just books."

Sahayb told the court his younger half-brothers Wail and Suleyman Aweys were more religious, saying: "I knew they were way more practising than me. I was not practising at all."

But, he added, he was "really shocked" when he found out they had left Britain to go to Syria in 2015.

image copyrightMet Police
image captionWail and Suleyman Aweys died in Syria - police did not reveal which brother is which

He said he was a "depressed alcoholic" and a gambler at the time and their departure left a "gaping hole" and led to gossip about the family.

"It went down as a stain and embarrassment. It became a reason for people to gossip and slander our family name," he told jurors.

The defendant said he worked stacking shelves in Poundstretcher and then took a job with Network Rail in 2016 before learning in early 2017 that his half-brothers had died.

"My understanding is that Wail died in an airstrike and Suleyman had been shot in the head," he added.

image copyrightMet Police
image captionMuhamed Abu denies failing to disclose information about acts of terror plotting

In June 2018, Sahayb Abu was convicted of a commercial burglary, the court heard.

He served his sentence at Wandsworth and High Down jails, he said, alongside some inmates serving sentences for terrorism offences.

Jurors heard the defendant was released from prison on 20 March last year, less than four months before his arrest.

He went to live alone at his father's flat in Dagenham where he said he was lonely, had no friends and went on the dating website Plenty of Fish to "meet girls".

"I was trying to become a better person," he said.

Sahayb Abu denies preparing for terrorist acts and Muhamed Abu denies failing to disclose information about acts of terror plotting.

The trial continues.

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