A Muslim convert is facing years behind bars after admitting plotting to kill around 100 people in a terror attack outside the Disney Store on Oxford Street, a place packed with children every day.
Lewis Ludlow swore allegiance to so-called Islamic State as he prepared to drive a van through London’s shopping district or Madame Tussauds.
The 26-year-old also researched other potential targets around the capital, and decided a Saturday lunchtime would result in maximum casualties.
Torn image found in a bin shows Lewis Ludlow’s terror plot
Between March 15 and April 19, he bought a phone under a false name and wrote down his attack plans – which were later found ripped up in a bin.
The note was pieced together to reveal “potential attack sites” including “Madame tussauds”, “Oxford Street – busiest time…”, “St Paul’s cathedral” and a ‘”Shia temple in Romford”.
It added: “Further locations scouted for the kil.” (sic).
Ludlow – who dubbed himself “The Eagle” and “The Ghost” – identified Oxford Street as an “ideal” target, writing: “It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack.”
Image from Oxford street
Ludlow, from Rochester, in Kent, formulated his plan after being stopped by police at Heathrow airport in February as he attempted to board a flight to the Philippines.
It was alleged he also set up a Facebook account called Antique Collections as a front to send money to south east Asia for terrorism.
The defendant was due to face trial in the autumn on two charges of preparing acts of terrorism and one of terror funding.
But at a hearing before Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC at the Old Bailey, he pleaded guilty to plotting an attack in the UK and funding so-called Islamic State abroad.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said it would not be in the public interest to pursue a trial on a charge of attempting to join so-called Islamic State in the Philippines which the defendant denied. That charge will lie on the court file.
According to a prosecution summary, Ludlow first came to the attention of police in 2010 when he attended a demonstration led by radical preacher Anjem Choudary and his banned Al-Muhajiroun (ALM) group.
When he was arrested in 2015, so-called Islamic State material was recovered from his electronic devices but no further action was taken.
In January 2018, he bought a ticket to fly to the Philippines on February 3 when he was stopped at the airport and had his passport seized.
When spoken to by police, he claimed he was going to the country as a sex tourist.
But in a search of his home, officers found he was in communication with a man named Abu Yaqeen in an area with a significant so-called Islamic State presence.
In March, Ludlow sent him money via PayPal and created the Facebook account Antique Collections.
It purported to be an antiques business in Maidstone but, the prosecution alleged, was really a front to raise money for so-called Islamic State in the Philippines.
On March 21, police recovered the torn up scraps of papers from Ludlow’s bin detailing his plans.
He also detailed a potential attack on Oxford Street using a van mounting the pavement, noting the lack of safety barriers.
“Wolf should either use a ram attack or use…on the truck to maximize death…it is a busy street it is ideal for an attack.
“It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack”.
On April 13, Ludow’s mobile phone was retrieved from a storm drain.
It contained videos of the defendant swearing allegiance to so-called Islamic State and pictures of crowded areas, said to be evidence of “hostile reconnaissance”.
“I grew up amongst you, I learnt your culture, your ways of life and your disgusting debauchery. I reject all of this,” Ludlow said in the videos.
“There is nothing between us except animosity and hatred.
“We love death as much as you love life, so therefore, my allegiance is to Islamic State…I have nothing for this country of Britain.
“I spit on your citizenship, your passport, you can go to Hell with that.”