Life with 16-year minimum term for ‘Mad Hatter’ female terror cell plot leader

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A mother and daughter that formed Britain’s first all-female Islamic State terror cell have been jailed over an Alice In Wonderland-inspired plot.

Rizlaine Boular, 22, planned to stab random members of the public around the Palace of Westminster causing widespread panic, injury and death in April last year, the Old Bailey heard.

The mother-of-one adopted the murderous scheme from her sister Safaa Boular, 18, who was in custody over an attempt to become a jihadi bride in Syria the year before.

In coded phone calls, they discussed holding an Alice In Wonderland themed tea party with Rizlaine cast as the Mad Hatter.

Safaa Boular court case
Court artist file sketch dated 11/05/17 by Elizabeth Cook of (left to right) Mina Dich, 43, Rizlaine Boular, 21, and Khawla Barghouthi, 20 (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Rizlaine Boular pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years.

Her Morocco-born mother Mina Dich, 44, from Vauxhall, south London, was handed six years and nine months plus five years on extended licence after she admitted helping her.

Safaa Boular court case
Mother-of-four Mina Dich supported her daughters’ terror ambitions (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He told the mother she bore a “heavy responsibility”.

Safaa Boular court case
Safaa Boular is the youngest female IS terror plotter to be convicted (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He said: “There are individuals walking the streets today whose lives could have been irreparably damaged or lost had it not been for the intervention of the police and security services.”

The defendants, who wore Islamic dress in the dock, made no reaction.

The court heard how Rizlaine Boular discussed the attack with her sister and mother in coded conversations about an Alice In Wonderland tea party.

She said she knew “a few recipes for some amazing cakes” for a “proper like English tea party kind of thing”.

Her younger sibling  suggested an “Alice In Wonderland theme” telling her sister: “You can be the Mad Hatter ’cause your hair’s crazy.”

Mother-of-four Dich responded: “That will be fun.”

She went on to shop for knives and a rucksack and carry out reconnaissance around Westminster with Dich.

She also practised for the knife attack in a bugged conversation at her friend Khawla Barghouthi’s home.

The women laughed as she expressed the fear she might “flop so badly” and cut her arm by accident.

When armed police went to arrest her, she shouted “f*** you” and was shot by an officer who thought she had something in her hand, the court heard.

In mitigation, her lawyer Imran Khan QC said: “In short, Rizlaine Boular embarked on this course of conduct because she wanted to die.

“She knew as soon as she produced a knife in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster police officers would swoop and kill her and that’s what she wanted at that time.”

He said she was radicalised online after being sacked from a marketing sales team for wearing Muslim clothes after three months.

She also suffered in an abusive marriage to a local imam after being prevented from travelling to Syria in 2014, he said.

On failed efforts to steer her away from IS, he said: “If there was Prevent intervention it was certainly not sufficient.

“The intervention was not as robust as it could have been and should have been.”

Mr Khan told the court Rizlaine had put her past views behind her.

Being shot in the stomach three times as she was arrested provided a “constant reminder” of what happened “and the fact she realised when she was shot she did not want to die”, he said.

Kieran Vaughan QC, for Dich, argued his client played a “lesser role” in the plot.

Michael Mansfield QC told jurors that Barghouthi came to Britain at the age of 11 from Tunisia knowing no English but excelled at school and aspired for a caring profession.

When she met “disturbed” Rizlaine Boular, she lent her a “hand or a shoulder”, not knowing how serious she was, he said.

On her banter with Rizlaine on the day of the planned attack, married Open University student Barghouthi said: “I did not believe the person I was with was actually going to go through with anything. When I read the transcript I was horrified how it sounds.

“What I can say at the time it was extravagant talk and very stupid fooling around.”

Safaa Boular, 18, Britain’s youngest female IS terror plotter, will be sentenced at a later date after she was found guilty of preparing terrorism in the UK and Syria.

Barghouthi, 21, from Willesden, north west London, admitted failing to report the threat and will be sentenced next Friday.

Scotland Yard’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon said: “This investigation started with Safaa, and her attempts to travel out to Syria, marry a Daesh fighter and support their terrorist activity. Having been prevented from travelling to Syria, she then set about plotting an attack in the UK but her plans were being covered by the counter terrorism network and security services.

“After Safaa was arrested and charged, her mother and sister tried to pick up where she left off.

“All three women were filled with hate and toxic ideology and were determined to carry out a terrorist attack. Had they been successful, it could well have resulted in people being killed or seriously injured.”

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