LONDON: A British man who used his role as an unqualified teacher at an Islamic school to try and recruit an "army" of children to commit terror attacks was on Tuesday handed a life sentence.
Umar Ahmed Haque, 25, will serve a minimum of 25 years in jail after being found guilty at London's Old Bailey of trying to radicalise scores of children to commit a mass attack on businesses and communities in London.
Haque, from east London, showed pupils the religious school, known as a madrasa, videos of "extreme terrorist violence" and made them "roleplay terrorists" stabbing police officers.
Accomplices, Abuthaher Mamun, 29, and Muhammad Abid, 27, were sentenced to 13 years and 4 years respectively.
"I welcome today's sentences, which have ensured that three men complicit in a plot to radicalise vulnerable young children and use them to attack businesses and communities in London are now in prison," said Dean Haydon from London's Metropolitan Police.
"He (Haque) wanted to orchestrate numerous attacks at once, using guns, knives, bombs and large cars to kill innocent people.
"He intended to execute his plan years later, by which time he anticipated he would have trained and acquired an army of soldiers, including children."
In a phone message heard in court, Haque told Abib that he was using his role as an administrator at after-school madrasa "Lantern of Knowledge" in east London to radicalise 16 children.
Further investigation revealed that Haque had also attempted to radicalise 55 children aged 11 to 14 while working at the Ripple Road Mosque.
"When specially trained officers interviewed the children, they described being shown by Haque horrific videos of extreme terrorist violence including executions," said Haydon.
"They told police how Haque made them roleplay terrorists and police officers, with the children acting as terrorists being made to stab the 'police officers' to death.
"The children were paralysed by fear of Haque, who they understood to have connections to terrorists and who essentially told them that a violent fate would befall them if they told anyone what he was doing. They were too afraid to confide in anyone," he added.
Haque was convicted by a jury of offences including plotting terrorist attacks, having previously admitted to four charges of collecting information useful for terrorism and one count of disseminating a terrorist document.