Jihadist’s sister who practised knife fights with brother as he plotted London attack spared jail
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 18/08/2020
A woman who practised knife fights with her jihadist brother as he plotted a terrorist attack has been spared jail after a judge said she acted out of “misguided loyalty”.
Sneha Chowdhury claimed that she did not believe her brother when he told her he was “serious” about launching an attack in London.
The 26-year-old teaching student was given a two-year suspended sentence after being found guilty of failing to inform police about an imminent attack, with the judge accepting she had been the subject of controlling behaviour.
Her brother, former Uber driver Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years last month after planning a gun, knife and van massacre in the capital.
Undercover police officers were deployed and discovered that he was planning a knife and gun attack on a Gay Pride march from an open top bus, with the help of another prisoner who was soon to be released.
He also bragged about deceiving an Old Bailey jury which cleared him of a sword attack on police outside Buckingham Palace in August 2017.
Sneha Chowdhury did not know what he was planning but MI5 had bugged the family home in Luton, Bedfordshire, and picked up conversations in which her brother practised knife fighting in front of her.
In one conversation, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury said he was giving in his notice that day at SFC Peri Peri chicken takeaway in Luton, adding: “I’m doing another attack bruv.”
His sister told him: “Bro you’re just having a down day today init. That’s what it is.”
But Mohiussunnath Chowdhury insisted: “No I’m serious bro, it’s about time now.”
Five days later, on 25 June last year, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury was picked up on listening devices asking his sister to delete his number in her phone and get rid of any WhatsApp and text messages.
Chowdhury and his sister had a close relationship forged by their mother’s mental illness but were often childish and would meow at each other like cats, Woolwich Crown Court heard.
She worked at a Sainsbury’s store and went to Brunel University where she was studying for a degree in education.
However, she was also doing all the cooking and cleaning at home and looking after her mother who was frequently in hospital with bipolar affective disorder.
Her desire to marry a boyfriend she had met at college caused a row with her father and brother who called her a “kaffir [infidel] pig” for adopting Western values.
A jury found her guilty after audio probes picked up a series of conversations in which her brother discussed fighting and decapitation.
After the arrests, police found a kitchen knife under the mattress in Mohiussunnath Chowdhury’s bedroom and slash marks to a canvas wardrobe where he had practised his technique.
Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, told a sentencing hearing that Sneha Chowdhury was “aware of the imminence of a violent attack by her brother” and therefore fell in the top category for culpability.
However, Marion Smullen, defending, called on the judge to be “merciful” and said Sneha Chowdhury was a “perfectly ordinary young woman”, who was overwhelmed looking after her mother, doing university studies and working part-time.
Her father, a taxi driver, has not talked to her for four months since her conviction and she has now married her boyfriend and is living with his family.
She has had to abandon her hopes of becoming a teacher but during the coronavirus crisis she has volunteered with the NHS.
Judge Andrew Lees accepted that Sneha Chowdhury had been the subject of “controlling behaviour” by male members of her family.
There was no evidence that she shared her brother’s extremist views and she appeared to have acted out of misguided loyalty, the judge said.
“I have read moving statement from your husband, uncle and cousins about family life and the responsibilities that fall on you,” he added.
“Weighing up the facts, I am particularly conscious you do not pose a risk to the public and have strong personal mitigation.”
Sneha Chowdhury, who was dressed in black, broke down in tears in the dock and hugged her cousins and husband in the public gallery after her release.
An audio probe first picked up Mohiussunnath Chowdhury practising with wooden “bokken” swords that he had bought using his sister’s Amazon account on 16 March last year.
He was heard saying: “You want to fight in the garden? Let’s fight here, real quick. Just let’s say you do an actual strike, where would you actually aim? If I was running up to a person, what I would do is, I’d run up, hold the blade like that and then I would stab like that. I would stab it straight into there.”
On 27 April, in the family house, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury told her he had made new friends at the local mosque and was “radicalising them”.
He was recorded telling his sister the same day: “I can’t train properly, I’m sorry to say. I need a dojo [gym]. Keep prying eyes [away] bro. You know what prying eyes are?
“I need to practise decapitation techniques and, you know what I mean, you can’t do it in the garden.”
In another conversation that MI5 picked up on 3 June in Sneha’s car, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury threatened to “take the heads off” police if they raided the family home.
The house had been visited by officers at 8.30am that morning, after a row between the Chowdhurys’ parents.
Mohiussunnath Chowdhury told his mother and sister: “I was shook man, I thought they came for me. I thought because I am watching bare terrorist s*** on the internet init.
“I was getting knife out for that bro straight over. I was getting ready to take off heads.”
In court, Sneha Chowdhury said she did not take her brother seriously, adding: “I’ve not focused on it, I’ve just brushed past it.”
© Sky News 2020