A heroic patient saved many lives by talking a lone wolf Islamic terrorist out of exploding a bomb inside a hospital, a court heard today.
Mohammad Farooq, 28, brought a homemade pressure cooker bomb to St James’ Hospital in Leeds where he worked as a clinical support worker and intended to cause devastation by carrying out a ‘murderous terrorist attack’, Sheffield Crown Court was told.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford, KC, said Mr Farooq planned to detonate his bomb – the size of the Boston Marathon device – and then use knives to ‘kill as many people as possible’.
The imitation firearm he also brought with him was intended to make him a martyr by inducing police to shoot him in the aftermath of the bomb, he said.
Mr Farooq had planned to set off his bomb at the US base at RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire but after taking the explosive device there he switched to ‘Plan B’ and drove to the less protected hospital where he worked and held a grudge against colleagues in January this year.
Fortunately, patient Nathan Newby was having a smoke outside the wing where he was being treated. He noticed Mr Farooq and ‘realised something was amiss’, said Mr Sandiford.
An artist’s impression of Mohammad Farooq, 28, appearing at the Old Bailey, London, via video link in February 2022. He plotted ‘murderous terrorist attack’ at St James’ Hospital, in Leeds, Sheffield Crown Court was told today
Instead of walking away, Mr Newby struck up a conversation with Mr Farooq.
Mr Sandiford said: ‘Mr Newby realised something appeared to be amiss and began to talk to him instead of walking away.
‘That simple act certainly saved many lives that particular night because, as the defendant was later to tell the police officers who arrested him, Mr Newby succeeded in “talking him down”.’
The court heard he earlier tried to force an evacuation to where he was waiting outside the hospital by sending a bomb threat to a nurse colleague by text.
The text read: ‘I have placed a pressure cooker bomb on J28. It will detonate in one hour. Let’s see how many lives you will save.’
However, the colleague was at home watching TV and didn’t see the message for an hour.
The evacuation Mr Farooq was waiting for to explode the bomb never happened. Instead there was a partial evacuation within the hospital when the authorities were alerted, the court heard.
Undeterred, Mr Farooq decided to detonate his improvised explosive device (IED) at a Costa café inside the hospital at the time shifts changed and the area was busy with nurses, said Mr Sandiford, ‘killing as many of them as possible’.
The jury heard it was at this point Mr Newby intervened.
Mr Sandiford said the defendant told the patient about his attack plan and the blast radius of his bomb.
Mr Newby bravely stayed with Mr Farooq, kept him calm and persuaded him to move away from the main entrance to a seating area to reduce the risk to those inside.
He eventually talked Mr Farooq into allowing him to use his phone to call police.
When police arrived the would-be bomber was arrested without a struggle and the pressure cooker device made safe.
St James’s Hospital in Leeds, West Yorkshire, was cordoned off in January after a suspicious package was found. Patient Nathan Newby was outside having a smoke when he noticed Mr Farooq and ‘realised something was amiss’
Subsequent police investigations discovered Mr Farooq was ‘self-radicalised’ by reading Islamic State and Al Qaeda propaganda online.
He had read an article ‘Build a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom’ published in Al Qaeda magazine Inspire.
The prosecutor told the jury that Mr Farooq had identified RAF Menwith Hill as a target and he made at least two visits there between January 10 and January 20.
He said he later admitted he had made three trips, taking the bomb with him each time.
Mr Sandiford said the defendant had also obtained viable instructions for the preparation of ‘five deadly toxins or nerve agents’ – ricin, sarin, VX, tabun and tetrodoxin.
He said Mr Farooq told interviewing detectives that ‘his explanation for travelling to Menwith Hill was because he liked to drive in that area of North Yorkshire’.
The prosecutor said Mr Farooq told detectives he only meant to scare people at the hospital and had no intention of detonating the bomb.
But Mr Sandiford pointed out that the defendant has already admitted possessing the IED with intent to endanger life.
He said an expert who examined the bomb found that, if it had detonated, he ‘would have expected a significant explosion with metal fragments being ejected at high speed indiscriminately, with the potential to cause serious injury or possible death’.
He said the explosive material was extracted from £600 worth of fireworks Mr Farooq bought in December last year.
Mr Farooq, of Leeds, West Yorkshire, denies engaging in conduct in connection with terrorist acts.
Mr Sandiford said the issue the jury would have to consider was whether he intended to commit acts of terrorism.
The jury heard he has pleaded guilty to several offences including possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life, a document useful for preparing acts of terrorism and offences relating to the imitation firearm he carried.
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow at 10am.
RAF – the Royal Air ForceLeeds