Driverless cars and drones being considered for use in terror plots, court case reveals

Farhad Salah 
Farhad Salah in a court sketch 

Driverless cars and drones are being considered for use by ISIL terrorists who are reluctant to martyr themselves in attacks, a court case has revealed. 

Farhad Salah, 24, was yesterday found guilty of planning to carry out a bomb atrocity by packing a driverless vehicle with explosives.

His plot was at an early stage when it was foiled by counter-terror police, but a senior officer said the Iraqi-Kurd defendant was “a very real risk to the safety of the public in the UK”.

During the course of his trial at Sheffield Crown Court, jurors were told how Salah had spoken to contacts on Facebook to find a way to detonate a bomb remotely. 

A week before his arrest in December 2017, the extremist sent a message saying: "My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver, everything is perfect only the programme is left ..."

In another message, he indicated he had an “invention” for “controlling vehicle with a laptop and without a driver”, adding: "None of our brothers need to get inside it .... it is safe for them all of it is laptop with camera will be controlled to the place you want to take you."

One contact replied to him suggesting he could use “a drone to drop an explosive”.

Farhad Salah was convicted following a re-trial at Sheffield Crown Court Credit: PA

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told jurors: “The intention was to manufacture a device which would be placed in a vehicle but controlled remotely so that no-one had to martyr themselves in the process."

Salah was found guilty of preparing to commit acts of terrrorism following a five-week re-trial. 

He was first arrested during a string of high-profile raids across Yorkshire and Derbyshire, when he was in the early stages of testing small improvised explosive devices. 

Investigators were never able to establish Salah’s intended target, but believed he intended to strike in the UK as his efforts to travel to the Middle East to join ISIL were faltering. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said Salah had “highlighted” his intention to use driverless technology for carnage. 

However, he added the defendant "never managed to obtain any form of driverless vehicle or had the technical capabilities to do that”.

His co-defendant, Andy Star, a 32-year-old chip shop owner from Chesterfield, was found not guilty of the same offence.