UK Birmingham PhD Student Charged With Terror For Designing Drone For ISIS

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Mohamad al Bared, a 26-year-old engineering PhD student, has been found guilty of terrorism for building a drone to supply to ISIS. He was arrested in January 2023 after police raided his house and discovered a 3D printed drone designed to deliver chemical weapons. Al Bared had been in contact with ISIS members and had extremist material and propaganda videos saved on his laptop. He had also documented conversations about getting a drone into a war zone without detection. The drone he built was not structurally sound for proper payload delivery. Al Bared may face a lifetime sentence.

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Drone was made at suspect’s house with his own 3D printer (Image credit: West Midlands Police)

Engineering Student Convicted of Building ISIS Suicide Drone

In an alarming case, Mohamad al Bared, a 26-year-old engineering PhD student at Birmingham University, was found guilty of terrorism charges for constructing a drone to supply to ISIS. This discovery was made during a police raid on al Bared’s house on January 31, 2023. The homemade drone was 3D printed using al Bared’s personal printer and was intended to be used for delivering chemical weapons.

West Midlands detectives revealed that al Bared had been in regular contact with ISIS members, stored extremist material and violent propaganda videos on his laptop, and even possessed a notebook detailing chemical equations and recipes for weapons like ricin, sarin, and mustard gas. Despite his lawyer’s claim that the drone was built for research purposes, the evidence clearly suggests otherwise.

Furthermore, conversations discussing how to smuggle the drone into a war zone undetected and how to establish a fake company for travelling on business were found on his electronic devices.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne, described al Bared as a dangerous individual due to his education and expertise in mechanical and chemical engineering.

Interestingly, the drone used in al Bared’s plan was printed using an Elegoo Neptune 2 at home. However, it was noted that the choice of PLA+ for the wings and skeletons, as well as a Styrofoam fuselage skin, suggested a lack of experience in aircraft design. This means that the drone would not have been structurally sound enough to properly deliver payloads, rendering it ineffective even if it had fallen into the hands of the terrorist organization.

Images released by the authorities show al Bared with his captured drone. It is now likely that he will face a lifetime sentence for his involvement in terrorism.

Mohamad al Bared with his captured drone (Image credit: West Midlands Police)

Fun Facts:

  • The drone used in the terror plot was 3D printed by al Bared himself using his personal 3D printer.
  • Al Bared’s choice of materials for the drone’s construction showed a lack of expertise in aircraft design, making it structurally unsound for proper payload delivery.
  • The police raid on al Bared’s house uncovered extremist material, violent videos, and a notebook containing chemical equations and weapon recipes.
  • Al Bared’s lawyer argued that he had built the drone for research purposes and had been researching ISIS to counter its views, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Wonwoo is a student journalist and contributor to The Aviationist based in London, United Kingdom. Currently studying MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a keen interest in OSINT, plane spotting and aircraft design. He is a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Army, having served as an artillery Fire Direction Centre Vehicle Radio Operator.

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