A British teacher was sentenced to prison for a minimum of 25 years Tuesday after he was convicted of trying to recruit students to carry out Islamic State-inspired attacks across London.
Umar Haque, 25, was accused of radicalizing some 110 children at two schools and a mosque making them re-enact deadly attacks on London and role-play attacks on police officers; he even exposed the children to gruesome videos of beheadings, Reuters reported.
“The children were paralyzed by fear of Haque, who they understood to have connections to terrorists and who essentially told them that a violent fate would befall them if they told anyone what he was doing,” said Dean Haydon, the head of Metropolitan Police’s Counterterrorism Command.
Haydon said a “number of exercise books” were recovered from Haque’s home and it was “evident from his notes that his plan was a long-term one.”
“[Haque] intended to execute his plan years later, by which time he anticipated he would have trained and acquired an army of soldiers, including children,” he said.
Haydon said Haque planned to “create an army of children” that would help carry out attacks at “multiple sites using multiple weapons.”
“He tried and he did, we believe, radicalize vulnerable children from the ages of 11 to 14,” Haydon said.
Prosecutors said Haque wanted to use the “army” to attack Big Ben, soldiers who guard Queen Elizabeth II and shopping centers.
Police believe Haque was radicalized through the internet and was inspired by last year’s attack on the Westminster Bridge that killed four people.
Haque lacked qualifications for academic positions, however, police said he became employed under the guise of teaching Islamic studies, Reuters reported.
Fox News' Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.