Mohammed Ammer Ali, a MUSLIM software programmer in the UK, has been found guilty of attempting to possess a chemical weapon after ordering enough ricin to kill 1,400 people at once.
The Guardian Mohammed Ammer Ali, 31, attempted to purchase 500mg of “the poisoner’s perfect poison” on the dark web before police raided his family home earlier this year. He was arrested after the FBI tipped off the north-west counter-terrorism unit in the UK, although detectives have since found no evidence that Ali had any links to terrorist groups.
At his Old Bailey trial, Ali argued that he was not guilty of attempting to possess a chemical weapon between 10 January 2015 and 12 February 2015 because it was for a “peaceful purpose.” He claimed to have been simply curious to see whether he could purchase items from the dark web.
However, a jury on Wednesday found him guilty after deliberating for five and a half hours. The trial judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said: “There is no evidence that he was planning any sort of terrorist attack. The maximum sentence for the offence is life imprisonment.
Ali, a software engineer, used the online moniker “Weirdos 0000” and used the cryptocurrency bitcoin to order 500mg of ricin from an online black market known as the Evolution Marketplace, the trial heard. He privately contacted a US dealer about obtaining the deadly poison – not knowing that the dealer was in fact an undercover FBI agent.
Over several weeks of communication, Ali promised to order 500mg of ricin a month for several months if he was happy with the initial product. Jurors were told that Ali, a father of two, carried out Google searches for “small sized pets” and “Liverpool pet shop” minutes after receiving the five vials, which were concealed in a children’s toy car.
Instead of ricin, police officers in the UK had planted a harmless substance in the car – including an invisible chemical that would later prove Ali had handled the toy after it was delivered by FedEx. He was arrested in a series of counter-terrorism raids across Merseyside the following morning.
Sue Hemming, head of the Crown Prosecution Service counter-terrorism division, said: “The jury has today roundly rejected Mohammed Ali’s claim that he was trying to understand the workings of the dark web and wanted to buy ricin, a deadly toxin, for a peaceful purpose.
“Ricin is a naturally occurring poison which is fatal even in very small doses. Ali knew the dangers of ricin and had been researching poisons for months before he attempted to obtain it. The evidence also showed that he was planning to test it on an animal that he was hoping to buy.