Man jailed for at least 16 years over Speakers’ Corner gun attack plot | UK security and counter-terrorism

A dangerous extremist was 10 minutes from obtaining a gun that he wanted for an attack in Hyde Park in London when he was stopped in an armed police operation, a counter-terrorism chief has said.

Edward Little, 22, had travelled by taxi from his home in Brighton to London with £5,000 in cash when officers arrested him in September 2022.

He was on his way to buy a weapon for a planned attack on a Christian preacher, Hatun Tash, who regularly appeared at Speakers’ Corner, but could have killed anyone who got in his way, police said.

The interception on a street corner in south-east London was the culmination of a counter-terrorism investigation spanning two months and was captured on police body-worn video.

Little, a Muslim convert, pleaded guilty to preparing to commit acts of terrorism and was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 16 years. He was sentenced in his absence after he refused to attend the Old Bailey hearing on Friday. The defendant had previous convictions for knifepoint robbery and dealing heroin and crack cocaine.

The head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East, DCS Olly Wright, said that since 2017, counter-terrorism policing and its intelligence partners had disrupted 37 terrorist plots similar to Little’s.

Wright told the PA Media news agency: “This is a very, very dangerous man who’s been stopped from carrying out a terrorist attack. I’m absolutely convinced of that. And lives have been saved as a result. Obviously, he had a target at Speakers’ Corner but anyone who got in his way, like a police officer or members of the public, could have been at risk.”

The court heard that Little had also considered a mass gun attack during the queen’s funeral.

Wright added: “Little was in a taxi travelling up from Brighton into London and on the backseat of the car was a holdall with about £5,000 in cash. That was the money that he had to buy the firearm. He was only about 10 minutes away from using that cash to buy the firearm that he was going to use in the attack.”

Last year was the first year since before 2016 that nobody was killed as a result of terrorism in the UK.

Wright said: “We have a really good counter-terrorism policing network. We can’t do this alone and we always rely on the public for their help. So if you see someone you’re really concerned about, or there’s something that’s just not right, please do report it. Trust your instincts and act. You can do that by reporting to the website.”

This article was amended on 18 December 2023. An earlier version misdescribed DCS Olly Wright as being from the Metropolitan police, which is not the case; and a reference to Edward Little having been tried was removed.


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