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UK Birmingham PhD Student Charged With Terror For Designing Drone For ISIS

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Drone was made at suspect’s house with his own 3D printer (Image credit: West Midlands Police)

Engineering PhD student Mohamad al Bared was convicted guilty of terror for building a suicide drone for ISIS

On Sept. 28, 2023, a student studying for his engineering PhD at Birmingham university was charged guilty for acts of terrorism after building a drone to supply to ISIS. Mohamad al Bared, a 26-year-old Coventry resident, was arrested on Jan. 31, 2023 when his house was raided by the police. During the raid it was found that he had been manufacturing a 3D printed drone for delivering chemical weapons.

According to West Midlands detectives, the suspect had been in constant contact with ISIS members as well as having extremist material and violent propaganda videos saved locally on his laptop. As a student studying chemical engineering, al Bared had also detailed chemical equations and recipes for chemical weapons in his notebook including ricin, sarin, and mustard gas. However, the chemical equations in question were clearly intended for weapons rather than part of the PhD research.

Furthermore, the documented conversations were found on his local device on how to get a drone into a war zone without being stopped by authorities as well as how to set up a faux company to pretend to be travelling on business.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said: “Al-Bared was a calculated individual and coupled with his education and expertise in mechanical and chemical engineering he was clearly very dangerous”.

While al Bared’s lawyer argued that he had made the drone for his own research and the previous material on his devices were due to him researching ISIS to debate against its views, it is pretty clear that his intentions were focused elsewhere.

The drone in question was 3D printed at home using his Elegoo Neptune 2.

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Mohamad al Bared with his captured drone (Image credit: West Midlands Police)

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Mohamad al Bared with his captured drone (Image credit: West Midlands Police)

Released images shows that the drone was printed with PLA+ wings and skeletons with a Styrofoam fuselage skin. Amongst 3D printed drone hobbyist, the norm is to use lightweight LW-PLA rather than the denser PLA+ that comes stock with any printer. Therefore, it can be concluded that al Bared was inexperienced with aircraft design and the drone was not structurally sound for proper payload delivery even if it had gone into the hands of the terrorist organisation.

According to Prosecutor Michelle Heeley, the drone “was a prototype being developed, something that could easily be built in the field, the ‘brothers’, each drone being sent on its way to kill innocent people”.

Mohamad al Bared remains in custody and may face a lifetime sentence.

About Wonwoo Choi
Wonwoo is a student journalist and contributor to The Aviationist based in London, United Kingdom. Currently studying MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a keen interest in OSINT, plane spotting and aircraft design. He is a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Army, having served as an artillery Fire Direction Centre Vehicle Radio Operator.

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