Woman jailed for plotting to bomb St. Paul’s cathedral in London

Safiyya Shaikh, 37, had planned to set off a bomb at the popular tourist attraction, to kill herself and visitors to the famous cathedral. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Woman jailed for plotting to bomb St. Paul’s cathedral in London

  • Safiyya Shaikh, 37, had planned to set off a bomb at the popular tourist attraction, to kill herself and visitors to the famous cathedral
  • She pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses in February and was jailed on Friday at the Old Bailey court

LONDON: A woman who had plotted a suicide bomb attack on London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral this Easter in support of Daesh was jailed for life on Friday and told she must serve at least 14 years behind bars.
Safiyya Shaikh, 37, had planned to set off a bomb at the popular tourist attraction, to kill herself and visitors to the famous cathedral and another bomb at the hotel where they would have stayed before the attack, prosecutors said.
However, the husband and wife extremists she had contacted online to obtain the bombs and whom she believed shared her view of violent jihad were actually undercover officers.
She pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses in February and was jailed on Friday at the Old Bailey court.
“Safiyya Shaikh chose to live her life as a violent extremist with a murderous hatred of those who did not share her twisted version of Islam,” said Jenny Hopkins from Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service.
“The damning evidence presented by the CPS of her planned suicide mission to St. Paul’s Cathedral left her with no room to talk her way out the charges.”
Shaikh, a Muslim convert from west London, had scoped out security at the church and was then secretly filmed handing two bags to the “wife” in a park which were to be returned to her at a later date with two working bombs.
She told the couple in a secure message: “I really would love to destroy that place and the kaffir there” and also praised Daesh and encouraged the killing of civilians across the world, prosecutors said.


Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

Updated 06 August 2020

Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

  • Security crackdown as more than 7,400 candidates contest twice-delayed election

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka went to the polls on Wednesday to elect 225 members to its 9th Parliament amid tight security and health precautions to limit the coronavirus pandemic.

The polls were twice-delayed after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the assembly in March and postponed polls scheduled for April due to the outbreak, before finally deciding on Aug. 5 as the date for general elections.

Mahinda Deshapriya, chairman of the Sri Lanka Elections Commission (EC), said police had been given “shooting orders” in case of security breaches and strict health protocols had been introduced at polling booths.

Deshapriya said that all 12,985 polling booths had been sanitized as a preventive measure.

The elections were completed at an estimated cost of $48.6 million, up from the $37.8 million spent during last year’s presidential polls.

Speaking to Arab News on Wednesday, Samuel Ratnajeevan Hoole, an EC member, said that a 60 percent turnout by noon was a “good sign of voters’ response.”

“Our voters are matured and informed now, and they will choose whom they want irrespective of any racial or religious differences,” he said, adding that there were fewer poll-related complaints this year compared with previous elections.

There were 46 registered political parties and 313 independent groups vying for the 225-seat parliament, with a total of 7,452 candidates in the fray – 3,652 fielded by 46 parties and 3,800 representing 313 independent groups.

According to the EC, nearly 16,263,885 registered voters could make their choice at the elections.

At this election, 196 members are to be elected at the district level under the proportional representation system to the 225-member parliament, while 29 members will be chosen from the National List. Under the 1978 constitution, the members are elected to the 9th Parliament.

Dr. Ruwan Wijemuni, general director of health services in Colombo, credited the voters for “lending their cooperation in full to make it a grand success.” At the same time, police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne said there were no reports of violence from any part of the island.

“There were minor scuffles on the eve of the polls in some parts of the island which were settled then and there,” he added.

Ismathul Rahman, 57, from the coastal town of Negombo, told Arab News that this year people were “keen to elect the right people” for their respective electorate as it was “crucial for the country’s economy.”

“It was a peaceful poll without any remarkable incidents of violence. The EC has managed the show well,” said Khalid Farook, 70, former president of the All-Ceylon Young Men’s Muslim Association, Wednesday.