UK woman handed life sentence for plot to blow up St. Paul’s Cathedral
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UK woman handed life sentence for plot to blow up St. Paul’s Cathedral

Prosecutors say Safiyya Shaikh, an Islamic State supporter, also planned to blow up a hotel and detonate a suicide vest on a London Underground train

People wear masks as they walk in London over the River Thames on Millennium Bridge near St Paul's Cathedral, seen in the background, March 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
People wear masks as they walk in London over the River Thames on Millennium Bridge near St Paul's Cathedral, seen in the background, March 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON — A woman was jailed for life, with a minimum sentence of 14 years, on Friday for plotting to blow up London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, a nearby hotel and a subway train in a suicide attack.

Safiyya Shaikh, 37, extensively researched how to cause maximum carnage at the historic church and visitor attraction. Police said she had planned to leave a bomb in a bag at the cathedral before detonating a suicide vest on a London Underground train.

Her defense lawyers said she had doubts about the plot, but prosecutors disclosed details of a call she made to a friend from prison last week in which she said she “didn’t get cold feet” and “was ready to go through with it.”

The Muslim convert, who was a supporter of the Islamic State jihadist group, pleaded guilty to creating a terrorist act and dissemination of a terrorist publication.

An undated photo released by London’s Metropolitan Police on February 21, 2020, shows Safiyya Amira Shaikh. (Metropolitan Police via AP)

Shaikh, born Michelle Ramsden, was arrested in October after she sought help from an undercover officer who posed as a bomb-making expert.

“She engaged with others, who she believed to be of a similar mindset, to instigate and plan a terrorist attack involving the use of improvised explosives to attack St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel nearby,” prosecutor Alison Morgan said. “She visited the cathedral to assess its security arrangements and the best place to detonate a bomb.”

“She stated that her intention was to kill herself and as many other people as possible,” she added.

Police said Shaikh was also heavily involved in extremist propaganda posts online and inspiring others to fight.

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