A 26-year-old man arrested over an alleged terror attack with a four-foot Samurai sword near Buckingham Palace earlier in August has been named as Bangladeshi-born British citizen Mohiussunnath Choudhury.
He appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Thursday and was charged under the UK’s Terrorism Act.
It emerged that Choudhury’s intended target was Windsor Castle, the royal residence in Berkshire near London, but his car’s GPS device took him to a London pub of a similar name instead.
He decided to drive on and arrived at Buckingham Palace, the London residence of Queen Elizabeth II, where he was intercepted by Scotland Yard officers.
Prosecutor Mark Carroll told the court: “Officers approached the vehicle and spoke with the male driver and as they did so the male took hold of a large sword from inside the vehicle and whilst still in the vehicle shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is greatest] several times.”
Choudhury, from Luton in Bedfordshire, has been charged with engaging in the preparation to commit an act or acts of terrorism on August 25 and has been remanded in custody to appear before the Old Bailey court in London on September 21.
Choudhury is also accused of injuring three police officers in the course of the attack as they approached his Toyota Prius car, used by the self-employed Uber driver.
According to details emerging of Choudhury’s life in the UK, he attended St. Lawrence Primary School and Uxbridge High School in west London, where he was said to be well liked.
A school friend said anonymously: “He was really nice to everyone and he was everyone’s friend. At school he hung around with all the other brainy kids, I think he was quite intelligent. He always got on with everyone.
“His family were quite nice – there was his mum and his dad and him and his sister.”
Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command had earlier revealed details of the attack, which took place at approximately 8:35pm local time on August 25 when a man stopped his blue Toyota Prius car in a restricted area near a police vehicle on the Mall roundabout near Spur Road. Officers at the Mall spotted a large bladed weapon in his vehicle and went to arrest him.
During the course of detaining the man, three male police officers suffered minor injuries to their arm. Two of the injured officers were taken to hospital for treatment and have since been discharged. Choudhury, who spoke in court only to confirm his name, was also taken to a London hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Commander Dean Haydon, the head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, had said: “I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and professionalism of these officers who quickly brought this incident under control. Their vigilance, courage and the swiftness of their response demonstrates how our officers are protecting the public at this time.
“We believe the man was acting alone and we are not looking for other suspects at this stage. While we cannot speculate on what the man was intending to do – this will be determined during the course of the investigation – it is only right that we investigate this as a terrorist incident at this time.”
A second 30-year-old man was detained on suspicion of terrorism offences a few days later at an address in west London in connection with the palace attack. He was released without charge earlier this week.
Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family were not in Buckingham Palace at the time. The 91-year-old monarch was at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and other senior members of the royal family are also away during the summer holiday season in the UK.