Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Man found with bomb-making equipment at Edinburgh flats

Faris Al-Khori Image copyright Police
Image caption Faris al-Khori, 62, had a bag of toxic beans which can be used to produce the poison Ricin

A former Syrian doctor has admitted having a hoard of explosive ingredients and instructions on how to prepare bombs in Edinburgh.

Faris al-Khori, 62, had chemicals, ball bearings, bolt, nuts and a bag of toxic beans which can be used to produce the poison Ricin.

The haul was found after firefighters attended a 999 call over a Muirhouse tower block rubbish chute fire.

Mr Al-Khori was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next month.

After the blaze was extinguished, fire crews forced entry to the flats to check no-one was inside but when they entered a property where Al-Khori was a tenant they found items that gave them "cause for concern".

Firefighters discovered mustard jars containing white powder and one marked "weed killer".

Al-Khori had a small quantity of a highly-volatile explosive which the forensic explosives laboratory refused to take as it was so dangerous.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard a bomb scene manager was requested along with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear advisors and the building was evacuated.

A search was carried out at a further block in Leith where al-Khori lived with his wife and a further haul of material was recovered. A further evacuation was later carried out at the block which was sealed off.

Al-Khori admitted the items belonged to him and said acetone that was recovered was used to clean carpets and peroxide found was for clearing up after pigeons.

He said a quantity of fertiliser was used for plants on the balcony, although there were none there when police searched the premises.

His wife said he carried out "wee tests" and bought items from the internet retail giant Amazon.

Image copyright Crown Office/PA
Image copyright Crown Office/PA
Image copyright Crown Office/PA

Al-Khori, who trained in Iraq as a doctor, admitted a breach of the 1883 Explosives Substances Act.

Between 27 December 2007 and 27 April 2014 he possessed or had under his control explosives substances under circumstances such as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that they were not for a lawful purpose at flats at Fidra Court and Persevere Court.

The maximum sentence is 14 years imprisonment.

A judge rejected a defence motion to free al-Khori, who at one stage faced terrorism act charges.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the court: "The plea is tendered on the basis that the accused was in possession of various items which, whilst not explosive in themselves, apart from 1g of lead picrate, could in combination be made into explosive substances.

"He accepts that the circumstances give rise to a reasonable suspicion that he did not have them for a lawful purpose."

'Significant inquiry'

The prosecutor added: "The Crown accepts the accused never made, or attempted to make, any explosive substance, explosive device or improvised explosive device."

Det Supt David Gordon, of Police Scotland, said: "This was a significant and complex inquiry for Police Scotland, working with our partners from the outset to safely deal with the volatile items that were being stored, and to seek to establish Al-Khori's motives for keeping them.

"Extensive inquiries both nationally and internationally were carried out, which did not identify any link to terrorism or extremism. We are satisfied there is no immediate threat to the community.

"Counter terrorism is one of Police Scotland's highest priorities, and whilst Al-Khori has no such known links we will always treat all information received with the utmost importance where any risk to the public is identified."

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