University of Birmingham PhD student facing jail for making ‘kamikaze’ drone for Islamic State

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Mechanical engineering graduate Mohamad Al-Bared designed a ‘kamikaze’ drone for the Islamic State

A University of Birmingham PhD student is facing jail after being convicted of making a ‘Kamikaze’ drone to be used by terror group Islamic State.

Mohamad Al-Bared, 26 designed the deadly device with an explosive head which was capable of delivering a bomb or a chemical weapon.

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A court heard the mechanical engineering graduate may have made some components using a 3D printer at the home he shared with his parents in Coventry. The device was found in his bedroom by police who also found he had filled out an IS application form when they raided the property in January.

Al-Bared, who was studying for a PHD at the University of Birmingham, was today (Thurs) found guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts. He was told to expect a lengthy prison sentence when he appears at Birmingham Crown Court again in November.

Mohamad Al-BaredMohamad Al-Bared
Mohamad Al-Bared | Counter Terrorism Police

Judge Paul Farrer KC told him: "You have been convicted of an offence of the upmost gravity. A lengthy prison sentence in the inevitable consequence of it but the length and nature of the sentence is a matter for careful consideration. The court will benefit from a risk assessment from the probation service in relation to dangerousness."

During the trial, the drone was shown to jurors with its landing gear and a small digital camera. The court also heard Al-Bared was fascinated with Islamic State.

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Michelle Heeley KC, prosecuting, said "It had all the components for it to fly. We suggest it was being manufactured to deliver a bomb, to fly into IS enemy territory and deliver a chemical weapon or some other kind of device."

University of Birmingham PhD student Mohamad Al-Bared made a ‘kamikaze’ drone in his bedroomUniversity of Birmingham PhD student Mohamad Al-Bared made a ‘kamikaze’ drone in his bedroom
University of Birmingham PhD student Mohamad Al-Bared made a ‘kamikaze’ drone in his bedroom | Counter Terrorism Police

She said its design had been inspired by the Tomahawk missile and there was evidence Al-Bared had been reporting back to someone about what he had been doing.

Alistair Webster KC, defending, said that Al-Bared, who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, had been "fascinated" by IS but rather than supporting the organisation wanted to argue against it. He said the defendant was constructing a drone for his own research purposes, totally unconnected with designing a weapon.