Former Uber driver who planned to attack Madame Tussauds jailed for life

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·4-min read
Chowdhury was sentenced to life with a minimum of 25 years. (PA Images/Met Police)
Chowdhury was sentenced to life with a minimum of 25 years. (PA/Met Police)

A jihadist who planned a gun and knife rampage at London tourist hotspots including Madame Tussauds has been jailed for life.

Former Uber driver Mohiussunnath Chowdhury was alleged to have desired to “unleash death and suffering” but tipped off an undercover police officer about his plans.

The 29-year-old chicken shop worker from Luton lifted weights, practised stabbing, rehearsed beheadings and booked shooting range training as he tried to procure a gun, a previous hearing at Woolwich Crown Court heard.

He was arrested three days before London’s Pride parade.

He was found guilty in February of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, collecting information likely to be useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications.

Revellers take part in the annual Gay Pride parade, in central London.
Chowdhury was planning an attack on a Pride parade in London, the court heard. (PA Images)

On Friday, Chowdhury was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court for life with a minimum term of 25 years.

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Lees said he was satisfied Chowdhury was “dangerous” and posed “a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm”.

He said: “The danger that you present is ongoing, it’s not possible to say when that danger will abate.”

The second charge was related to a document titled ‘guidance for doing just terror operations’ on his phone, which included instructions on how to kill people with knives.

General view of the Madame Tussauds waxwork museum in London. This world famous waxworks museum, containing lifelike images of the famous and notorious, began in the 1820's when Madam Marie Tussaud opened her first permanent waxworks display in Baker Street. It is now one of the major tourist attractions in London.
Chowdhury plotted to attack Madame Tussauds, the court was told. (PA Images)

He had previously been cleared of slashing police with a sword at Buckingham Palace while shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said Chowdhury wanted to “unleash death and suffering” after taking on board sermons from preachers like al Qaida’s Anwar Al-Awlaki.

During a five-month operation, an undercover officer known as Mikael gained Chowdhury’s trust by saying he had a gun and would carry out his own attack soon.

“Various potential targets were discussed between the defendant and those he believed to be committed to the same cause and the same forms of violence as himself,” Atkinson said in an earlier hearing.

“The targets mentioned included Madame Tussauds in London, the gay pride parade and an attack on tourists on a London open-top tour bus.”

General view of Woolwich Crown Court, London.
Chowdhury was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court. (PA Images)
Handout file photo photo issued by Metropolitan Police of a knife on a bed, shown at Woolwich Crown Court, relating to the trial of Sneha Chowdhury and Mohiussunnath Chowdhury. (PA Images/Met Police)
Photo issued by Metropolitan Police of a knife on a bed, shown at Woolwich Crown Court, relating to the trial of Sneha Chowdhury and Mohiussunnath Chowdhury. (PA/Met Police)

The court heard Chowdhury told the officer: “If you’re one man and there’s a million kuffar (unbelievers), you are free to fight them, if your intentions are clear, you’re fighting for the pleasure of Allah.

“And if you die that’s completely fine, it’s even more virtuous, you know.

“The weapons are a must, these firearms, it’s a 100%… just make sure you have clips, akhi (‘brother’), you have enough clips, know what I’m saying.”

He added: “It must be an ambush… we should be the one doing it first, they shouldn’t know what’s hit them, yeah, does that make sense?”

The court also heard Chowdhury had boasted about deceiving a jury which cleared him in an Old Bailey trial in 2018.

Photo issued by Metropolitan Police of wooden training swords, shown at Woolwich Crown Court, relating to the trial of Sneha Chowdhury and Mohiussunnath Chowdhury. (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
Photo issued by Metropolitan Police of wooden training swords, shown at Woolwich Crown Court, relating to the trial of Sneha Chowdhury and Mohiussunnath Chowdhury. (Met Police/PA)

During the incident at Buckingham Palace, two unarmed officers received cuts to their hands.

Chowdhury said he felt “so much peace” before slashing the officers because of “guaranteed paradise”, the trial heard.

Scotland Yard’s counter terror commander Richard Smith said Chowdhury wanted “to kill and harm as many people as possible”.

But in court, defence barrister Simon Csoka QC said his client was a “pathetic little man” who sought attention and “talks and talks but doesn’t do”.

Chowdhury’s praise of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris and soldier Lee Rigby’s murder was dismissed as “jihadi banter” and, and the court was told his weapons training came from his fascination with martial arts and weightlifting.

His sister Sneha Chowdhury, 26, who was convicted of one count of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism, is yet to be sentenced.