St Paul’s bomb plot: IS supporter Safiyya Shaikh ‘got cold feet’

Safiyya Shaikh Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Safiyya Shaikh was arrested by two undercover detectives posing as supporters of extremism

An Islamic State terror group supporter who planned to “blow up St Paul’s Cathedral” was getting “cold feet” about the attack, a court has heard.

Muslim convert Safiyya Shaikh, 37, went on a reconnaissance trip to scope out the London landmark and a hotel.

She was arrested after asking undercover police to supply her bombs.

The Old Bailey heard she “had doubts” about the plot, but said she did not want to disappoint the “friends” she was conspiring with.

Shaikh, who admitted preparing an act of terrorism, was said to have become distressed following her arrest when it was disclosed to her that those two friends were actually undercover police officers.

A sentencing hearing heard Shaikh carried out a reconnaissance mission to the central London landmark in September 2019, but pushed the date of the attack back from Christmas to Easter.

Image caption Safiyya Shaikh planned to bomb “under the dome”

She had also gone through the early stages of getting fitted for a suicide vest, saying she wanted to carry out a mass atrocity before becoming a martyr.

However, she cancelled a meeting with the undercover officers in October as she “started to get doubts”, causing concerned police to swoop in and arrest her.

Defence counsel Ben Newton said: “This particular terrorist act would never have actually happened.

“Three people were involved in this plot, and the other two were undercover police officers.

“There was no bomb, and there never would be.

“On evidence before the court, there were clear indicators Safiyya Shaikh had cold feet and wouldn’t go through with it.”

Mr Newton said his client had experienced a “life of pain and loneliness”, and disclosed she suffered a “truly traumatic childhood”.

She also went to great lengths to please people, even travelling to Pakistan to get married against her will, before backing out at the last minute and being sent home to the UK in disgrace, he added.

“She didn’t want to blow up a church of people, she just wanted friends.”

The court heard Shaikh had converted to Islam in 2007 after being impressed by the kindness of a local Muslim family.

The sentencing was adjourned to Thursday.