/ Dentist jailed for downloading recipes on how to make explosives

A dentist who downloaded recipes on how to make explosives, poisons and mines has been jailed following an investigation by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.

Umer Farooq (born 18/02/1978), of formerly of Bramhall Moor Lane, Stockport, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act.

He was sentenced to two years in prison at the Old Bailey in London. He will be deported to Pakistan after serving his sentence.

Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) commenced an investigation into the activities of Farooq during the early summer of 2012 after receiving intelligence about websites he was accessing.

Farooq, who is a qualified dentist in Pakistan, was staying at a family member's home in the Bramhall area of Stockport at the time. He had previously been studying for a master's degree at the University of Wrexham having come to the UK on a student visa in October 2010.

It is believed he was due to fly to Pakistan on 3 June 2012 so officers from the NWCTU took action and arrested Farooq in the Harrow area of London the day before he was due to leave.

Several computers and media storage devices used by Farooq at the address in Stockport were seized and officers discovered he had been accessing material which included an online al-Qaeda magazine and details of how to make explosives, poisons and mines.

Also found was the 'Terrorist Handbook Of Explosives', documents relating to 'homemade C4', 'guns with silencers', 'home-built mines' and 'silent killing'. One computer file contained information about the collection of evidence at crime scenes, while another was titled 'Black medicine: The dark art of death.'

Farooq downloaded the material between 1 September 2011 and 2 June 2012 although the vast majority of the material was downloaded between March and June.

Detective Superintendent Mark Smith said: "We may never know the true intent behind Farooq's actions. Only he knows why he accessed materials on how to construct viable explosive devices.

"However, I do want to reassure people that we did not discover any evidence of genuine attack-planning, nor anything to suggest that Farooq was planning to construct such a device. It might have been pure fantasy on his part for whatever reason, but I want to stress there was no threat to any of our communities.

"I also want to make it clear that we believe Farooq was acting alone. We have no intelligence to suggest he was linked to or belonged to a terrorist cell. Equally, I want to make it absolutely clear there are no suspicions whatsoever about the family members he was staying with.

"We must always recognise the dangers posed by the relatively easy access to these online publications which contain instructions on how to make viable explosive devices from everyday household items.

"That is why the North West Counter Terrorism Unit will always act on credible information that extremist websites are being accessed and we will never hesitate when there is evidence of possible terrorist activity. That is the very reason we arrested Farooq when we did - there can be no delay.

"And anyone who is found to be accessing bomb-making manuals, whether they plan to build them or just out of morbid curiosity, faces a prison sentence."

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