'˜Pair trying to make explosive for a driverless car', court told

Two men accused of jointly plotting a terror attack were attempting to manufacture an explosive device involving a driverless car, a court has heard.

Andy Star and Farhad Salah were working together in a bid to make the weapon, Sheffield Crown Court (pictured) was told.
Andy Star and Farhad Salah were working together in a bid to make the weapon, Sheffield Crown Court (pictured) was told.

Andy Star, 32, who lived and worked at the Mermaid Fish Bar on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, and Farhad Salah were working together in a bid to make the weapon, Sheffield Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told the court how the pair were supporters of terrorist organisation Islamic State, and how Salah had arrived in the UK in 2014, but had not had his asylum claim determined prior to his arrest.

She said: “The prosecution allege that Farhad Salah and Andy Star had decided that improvised explosive devices could be made and used in a way here in the UK that spared their own lives preferably but harmed others they considered to be infidels.”

During her opening speech, Ms Whyte read a message, sent by 23-year-old Salah in December 2017, in which he told a contact: “My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver, everything is perfect only the programme is left.”

Describing how this was evidence Salah was “attack planning”, Ms Whyte added: “But he was not planning alone.

“Andy Star had access to the materials necessary to conduct small test runs with explosives and Star was making those devices in his flat.”

The court also heard the ideology of Salah, of Brunswick Road, Sheffield, was evident in his social media messages, with Ms Whyte telling how his communications reflected “his affiliation to Islamic State”. On November 29 last year, he is said to have shared a 58-minute long propaganda video “designed to inspire supporters of IS but also designed to frighten those who do not support IS”, which showed scenes of warfare, beheadings and executions.

Ms Whyte said that Salah had told a contact he would consider Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the caliph of Islamic State, to be a kafir, or unbeliever, if he failed to live up to “the very high standards imposed by Salah’s radical and militant form of Islam”.

The prosecutor added that he had expressed a desire to travel to the Sham, referring to the “wide areas of the Middle East including Syria and Iraq, parts of which Islamic State had tried to occupy”.

Salah had allegedly offered to pass over funds to a member of a Salafist Jihadist militant group. The prosecutor added that the defendant appeared “desperate to do something in the cause of Islamic State”, and that, upon his arrest, officers said that the alleged plot was to be carried out “in the near future at an unidentified location”.

Of the other defendant, Ms Whyte said: “It is entirely conceivable that Andy Star’s extreme views developed a relatively short time before the events with which we are now concerned.”

After the pair were arrested in the early hours of December 19 last year, three air rifles, two Samurai swords, a bottle of sulphuric acid, homemade fireworks, and “a variety of improvised homemade fuses” were discovered at Star’s property, Ms Whyte said.

The court heard how officers at Salah’s home discovered gunpowder and a “viable pyrotechnic fuse”. The pair both deny preparing an act of terrorism, and their trial continues tomorrow.