A terrorist jailed for plotting to bomb a shopping centre has apologised for his actions – and is working with police to stop young Muslims being seduced by an ”ideology of hate”.
Former public schoolboy Isa Ibrahim, 22, who changed his name from Andrew after converting to Islam, blamed ”poisonous propaganda” he found online for his ”mistakes”.
He was jailed for a minimum of ten years in 2009 after being convicted of terrorism and explosives offences at Winchester Crown Court.
But Ibrahim – the son of an NHS pathologist – is now working with police to ”root out extremism” and prevent other young Muslims being radicalised.
His story will feature in a 20-minute video called Conviction produced by Avon & Somerset police which is designed to warn people not to get sucked into terrorism.
It charts his life story from his loving, middle-class upbringing and private education to his indoctrination and chilling plot to blow up parts of Bristol.
While studying at City of Bristol College, Ibrahim’s research into explosives and Islamic extremists saw him spend up to six hours a day trawling the internet and books for information on suicide bombers.
The opening scene features the original home video made by Ibrahim himself when he was experimenting with explosives at his flat, complete with his original voiceover.
The last time this mobile phone video was seen was during his trial at Winchester Crown Court in 2009.
After a test viewing was aired to hundreds of people, the film is being shown to community groups, educational establishments and other forums across the country – warning that anyone could be susceptible to extremism.
When Ibrahim was shown the film in prison, he recognised its realism and gave it his approval, according to police sources. His mum Victoria has also pledged her support.
Speaking from behind bars, Ibrahim, a City of Bristol chemistry student from Westbury-on-Trym in the city, encouraged communities to report anyone behaving suspiciously to prevent any tragedies.
He said: ”I would like to offer my support to the police for the work they are doing to prevent young men making the same mistakes I made.
”It is of significant importance that we all come together to root out extremism and the poisonous propaganda that is in our communities and on the internet.
”I believe that Imams of mosques play a crucial role in combating this ideology.
”I urge Muslims to talk to local Imams and scholars about religious matters and not rely on the internet and those who seek to draw people into their ideology of hate; something I unfortunately was taken in by.”
Detective Chief Inspector Martyn Triggol, who led the project, said the case was extremely significant for the west.
He said: ”The case of Isa Ibrahim was extremely significant for Bristol, as well as the region as a whole.
”We recognised that the case could provide a valuable opportunity to explore some of the issues relating to preventing violent extremism and explore how police, partners and communities can work together to challenge it.
”The Conviction project aims to highlight the issue of vulnerability, the crucial nature of early intervention work, and illustrate how quickly a vulnerable person can be adversely influenced by extremist rhetoric.
”The case of Isa Ibrahim is particularly relevant because it is a key example of the fact that we all have roles to play in recognising and supporting individuals who are vulnerable to being radicalised.
”The aim of this film is to raise awareness of any opportunities there might be to identify someone like Isa at an earlier stage.
”In this way the police and other agencies can provide support and guidance to help prevent them going down a criminal path in the first place.”
Ibrahim was born Andrew Michael Philip and his Egyptian father, Nassif Ibrahim, is a consultant at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol.
But while studying at City of Bristol College his research into explosives and Islamic extremism increased until he was spending up to six hours a day trawling the internet and books for information on suicide bombers.
He converted to Islam in 2006 and figures such as Osama bin Laden, the 7/7 London bombers and the failed 21/7 bombers of 2005 became his heroes.
Ibrahim was arrested after members of the local Muslim community raised concerns over his behaviour and burns on his hands.
Police raided his flat and found ”all he needed” to make bombs including the home-made high explosive HMTD in a biscuit tin with a suicide vest hanging on his bedroom door.
They believe his most likely target was Broadmead shopping centre, in the heart of bustling Bristol, where he had been filmed taking notes on reconnaissance missions.
Ibrahim was found guilty of making an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.
He was also convicted of preparing a terrorist act and making an explosive substance and jailed with a recommendation that he serves a minimum of 10 years before he can be considered for parole.
Using the majority of a #50,000 grant from the Home Office’s counter-terrorism strategy, Avon and Somerset police commissioned film-makers Omni to produce the film.
The DVD comes with a discussion and presentation package to help raise the issues in cases like this to anyone over 14 years old.
Farooq Siddique, the South West manager for the Government’s Prevent strategy, has been involved in the Conviction project from the beginning.
He said: ”The film was a perfect opportunity to explain the Al Qa’ida narrative. With Isa’s story we were able to bring this home with some reality.
”We are delivering this across England, Scotland and Wales and the film has had a phenomenally positive response.”
Shabana Kausar has put together the discussion package that goes with the film.
She said: ”The issue is really serious, but no one really knows how to tackle it. I think it’s a great film and it provides a safe place for people to talk about extremism.”
Samia Chowdhury, who has seen the film, said she could see how anyone could be brainwashed.
She said: ”We have this image in our heads that a terrorist is from a different breed. But, from watching the film, it is obvious it could happen to anyone.”
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