A British man has pleaded guilty to plotting to kill a prominent Christian street preacher in London’s Hyde Park.
21-year-old Edward Little had previously denied his intentions to commit acts of terrorism, but during a trial at London’s Old Bailey court, he changed his plea and admitted planning to buy a gun to shoot preacher Hatun Tash.
Police arrested the Brighton man after stopping his taxi and finding him in possession of the the equivalent of nearly A$9,500 in cash.
It is alleged that Little intended to use the money to buy a firearm to target Ms. Tash and her accompanying camera crew as well as any police or soldiers in the vicinity.
Police later found an encrypted phone chat setting out his attack plan and the gun purchase.
The court heard that during his taxi journey he asked to stop at a mosque to pray, but said he would do it in the cab after being told there was none on his route.
Prosecutors claimed Little had researched multiple police and military targets as well as Ms. Tash, but he would only admit to targeting the preacher.
He was jailed after physically attacking interviewing police officers when they showed him a photo of Ms. Tash.
He will remain in custody until his sentencing for the murder plot in July.
Little had previously been convicted of 14 offences on seven separate occasions, including robbery, having a knife and drug dealing.
Hatun Tash said: “l am glad that the police were able to act and stop Mr. Little before he harmed me and people around me. This should concern everyone in the UK.”
“I should be able to practice my right to preach the Gospel and critique Islam, or anything else that I disagree with, especially at Speakers’ Corner, the home of free speech,” she added.
Ms. Tash is the director of the ministry Defend Christ Critique Islam and a regular at Speakers’ Corner where she often talks about the Muslim faith.
Premier Christian News reports she was wounded when attacked there two years ago.
Police twice arrested her for refusing to follow officers’ directions to leave the area.
They were forced to make a public apology and pay the street preacher A$15,000 in compensation over her arrests.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Ms. Tash, said: “It will be a surprise to many that even here in the UK there are such risks for those who dare to challenge Islam. But as this case highlights that is the reality and Christians often bear the brunt of such hostility.”