Man plotted to kill 100 outside London Disney store

A Muslim convert has pleaded guilty to plotting to kill around 100 people outside a Disney store on London’s Oxford Street.

Lewis Ludlow, 26, swore allegiance to Islamic State (IS) as he prepared to drive a van through London’s main shopping area or near Madame Tussauds.

Using a false name, he bought a mobile phone and wrote down his plans to carry out an attack – the plans were later found torn in pieces in a bin.

He picked out Oxford Street as an “ideal target” and wrote: “It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack.”

Ludlow, of Rochester, in Kent, planned an attack after being stopped by police at Heathrow Airport in February as he tried to board a flight to the Philippines.

Lewis Ludlow
Image:Ludlow first came to the attention of police in 2010

He was due to go on trial in the autumn on two charges of preparing acts of terrorism and one of terror funding but at an Old Bailey hearing on Friday he pleaded guilty to plotting an attack in the UK and funding IS abroad.

Ludlow is alleged to have set up a Facebook account called Antique Collections as a front to send money to Asia to fund terrorism.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said it was notin the public interest to pursue a trial on a charge of attempting to join IS in the Philippines which Ludlow denied and that charge will lie on the court file.

The prosecution said 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.

He was arrested in 2015 and IS material was recovered from his electronic devices but police took no further action.

Notes showed Ludlow scouted areas and looked at hiring a van
Image:Notes showed Ludlow scouted areas and looked at hiring a van

In January, he bought a ticket to fly to the Philippines and was stopped at the airport and his passport was seized.

He told police he was going to the country as a sex tourist.

But officers searching his home found he was in communication with a man named Abu Yaqeen in an area with a major IS presence.

Ludlow sent Yaqeen money in March through PayPal and created the Facebook account Antique Collections.

It claimed to be an antiques business based in Maidstone but prosecutors said it was actually a front to raise money for IS in the Philippines.

Police recovered torn up scraps of papers from Ludlow’s bin outlining his plans.

When pieced together they revealed “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)”

There were also details of a potential attack on Oxford Street using a van to mount the pavement.

It said: “Wolf should either use a ram attack or use…on the truck to maximise death…it is a busy street it is ideal for an attack. It is expected nearly 100 could be killed in the attack”.

Police retrieved Ludlow’s mobile phone from a storm drain on 13 April that contained videos of the defendant swearing allegiance to IS and pictures of crowded areas, said to be evidence of “hostile reconnaissance”.

Madame Tussauds was considered a possible target
Image:Madame Tussauds was considered a possible target

In the meantime, undercover police engaged Yaqeen in online chat, in which he called for “lone wolf” attacks and funds to be sent to the Philippines.

Yaqeen put the undercover officer in contact with Ludlow and implied they could work together to launch a terror attack in the UK.

Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) officers arrested Ludlow on 18 April but he refused to explain himself when interviewed by detectives.

Ludlow, who appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison, will be sentenced on 2 November.