A VENGEFUL woman wrote hoax letters to the police and the Home Office claiming her brother-in-law was a terrorist who was planning to kill dozens of people in a horror attack in a Home Counties town, a court has heard.
A judge was told that 39-year-old Bushra Ali penned the false tip-off letters in a family revenge rampage because she felt her brother had been badly treated during his divorce from his wife.
Ali maliciously targeted her brother-in-law as a way of getting back at him after he and his wife gave refuge to her divorced sister-in-law after the messy separation which saw the ex-wife gain custody of their children and win 70 per cent of the value of the matrimonial home.
Shocking claims about the “planned terrorist acts” were revealed during the sentencing hearing at Reading Crown Court when a prosecutor read out the contents of the letters sent to Thames Valley Police, the Home Office and the Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley area.
They alleged her brother-in-law was a friend of London terrorist Usman Khan and was part of a gang of terrorists who were “going to do a very big attack in Reading during Christmas 2019.”
Prosecutor Christopher Hewertson said: “This case relates to the sending of three handwritten letters, including images, to the Thames Valley Police, the Home Office and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames and Chiltern, in December last year, alleging that family members of the defendant were planning a terrorist attack around Christmas.
“This was originally treated as plausible by the police and took up hundreds of hours of specialist police work but was subsequently found to be false.
“The occupants of the address named in Reading were the defendant’s sister and her husband, who was the particular target of these assertions, saying he was a central terrorist connected to Khan of the London Westminster attacks in November of that year.
“During the acrimonious separation between the defendant’s brother and his ex-wife, the defendant clearly sided with her brother and against her sister and her husband, because they had provided accommodation at their home for the ex-wife and the children of the relationship.
“The battle lines started to be drawn, in effect creating two feuding wings of this family unit.
“The letters were written maliciously with the intention of provoking a police response and investigation resulting in occupants of the address being arrested.”
He went on to explain that the police had chosen to carry out more research into the claims before raiding the address in Reading.
“Hours of police time were wasted by seeking to establish the provenance of those letters and potential of the risk before the parties were spoken to in person.”
Mr Hewertson read the letters, sent over the course of ten days in December 2019 to the three recipients.
The first letter, a hastily scrawled note on the back of one of the photos sent on December 9 2019, read: “This man and his friend are terrorists.
“They are friends of Usman Khan who did the attack on London Bridge.
“These people are planning to do a big attack in Reading. He lives at an address in Reading.
“He has loads of unlicensed guns. They will be doing a very big attack in Reading during Christmas. Please save all of us poor peoples.”
The enclosed photos, the prosecutor said, were from a family wedding in Pakistan where it was customary to fire guns into the air in celebration of the union.
“The defendant, Ali, knew it had nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism,” he told Judge Angela Morris.
The second letter alleged: “This man is a terrorist. He is going to do a attack in Reading on Christmas. He lives at an address in Reading. He has a big gang, please help us from this evil.”
A third letter said: “They are going to kill loads of innocent people who have the right to live. Please act fast before it’s too late. We need help to save our GB and our people.”
The prosecutor resumed, “One of the letters mentioned the man and his mother’s name and all of them gave addresses for the police to attend on suspicion of terrorism.
Judge Morris heard that Ali was seeking to avenge her brother, who was in the midst of divorce proceedings with his ex-wife.
Her sister and her husband had chosen to let the “bitch” stay in their home, which caused the 39-year-old woman to instigate the false claims.
Defence counsel Michael Phillips explained to Judge Morris the complex feud between the seven siblings and their spouses and the role Ali had had to play in it.
Sentencing Ali to 30 months in jail, Judge Morris said sternly: “You knew that the address to which you directed the authorities in those letters housed not only adults but children as well.
“It follows, therefore, that you did what you did without any care or thought for the traumatic consequences which might follow for the children being caught up in an early morning raid by police officers.
“The specific reference to Usman Khan was the sort of thing which would have excited the police to establish an investigation immediately because of the coincidence in time between the first letter and the attack on Fishmonger’s Hall in London which left five innocent people dead.
“In this case, well over 250 hours of police investigative work had to be undertaken at a time when the country had recently suffered yet another terrorist attack.
“You were arrested on December 24 at your home address. You confessed your involvement in these matters immediately but that was against an exercise in blaming your sister and brother-in-law as bad people. I do not accept that there is anything in these papers to justify that slur.
“You were brought up in Pakistan and your early life was not a happy one. You moved to the UK in June 2009. You have endured the deaths of two babies in quick succession. I accept all of that, but it does not excuse your conduct in respect of this offence.
“It is only through the calm, thorough and responsible actions of the police investigating this matter that those who were the target of your unconscionable vendetta were not arrested against the full glare of publicity and the inevitable fear and trauma such an arrest would have caused.”
Ali, from Alexandra Road, Reading, was sentenced to 30 months in jail on one count of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, and ordered to pay £181 in court costs. She admitted the offence.