Terror plot accused tried to make remote-control bomb above chippy, court told

Farhad Salah, 23, and Andy Star, 32. Photo credit: Counter Terrorism Policing North East/PA Wire
Farhad Salah, 23, and Andy Star, 32. Photo credit: Counter Terrorism Policing North East/PA Wire
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Two men on trial for allegedly plotting a terror attack were attempting to manufacture a remotely-controlled explosive device in a laboratory above a fish and chip shop, a court has heard.

Andy Star, 32, of the Mermaid Fish Bar in Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, and Farhad Salah, 23, were hoping to harm "infidels" using the weapon, which could be placed inside a car, prosecutors have said.

Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court heard that the younger of the two defendants, who are both Kurdish and from Iraq, had told a contact that the vehicle could be controlled through a laptop, meaning that no-one would need to be inside it.

Continuing her opening speech on Wednesday, prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told jurors: "They intended to manufacture a device which would be placed in a vehicle but controlled remotely so that they did not have to martyr themselves in the process."

Describing the two defendants as supporters of Islamic State, she said their intentions were "sophisticated" and "lethal", adding that there was evidence to suggest they had been testing "from a very low level how to make and ignite explosives".

Jurors also heard that both defendants were involved in the alleged making and testing of explosives, with the prosecutor telling them that most of this occurred in a laboratory above Star's fish and chip shop.

Ms Whyte also read a message, sent by Salah, of Brunswick Road in Sheffield, in which he told a contact: "My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver, everything is perfect only the programme is left."

Jurors were told that the pair shared instructional videos with one another, with the prosecutor saying that Salah believed he and Star had "mastered the art of an explosive reaction".

She added: "He admired the force of the explosions depicted and simply took the view that such force could be increased upon constructing a larger device."

Days before his arrest, Salah is said to have told a contact: "We have made invention in the field of explosion we have produced substance, if you put it in any explosive it triples the power ... and also controlling vehicle with laptop and without a driver."

Ms Whyte said that, by December 14 last year, "the development of the device or devices they intended to use was still far from complete".

Jurors heard that, following their arrests on December 19, both defendants "denied any involvement in terrorism".

Star supposedly said he was not a supporter of Islamic State, while Salah told officers he was not a threat and that his Facebook account, which prosecutors said was evidence of his "affiliation to Islamic State", had been hacked.

The court was told that explosive ordnance disposal officers from the armed forces attended Star's property "three times and on occasion, out of an abundance of caution, destroyed certain items in a carefully controlled way".

The two men both deny preparing an act of terrorism and their trial is expected to last four weeks.

The prosecution will resume its case on Monday morning.