Drill rapper Official TS has pleaded guilty to possessing chemicals for terrorist purposes.
The 20-year-old musician – real name Al-Arfat Hassan – is known by drill fans as the artist Official TS, and was caught by police when he was stopped at Heathrow Airport.
Originally from Enfield in North London, the rapper originally sang about street violence, however, was reported by BBC News as taking a turn in 2021 and moving on to religiously-inspired violence.
At the airport on February 27, officers seized two iPhones when Hassan was about to fly to Bangladesh with his father and uncle. From there, the musician reportedly missed his flight and went home “to quickly dispose of the chemicals and most of the weapons”.
But detectives working with the specialist Counter-Terrorism Policing National Digital Exploitation Service (NDES), proceeded to find a “wealth of incriminating material” on the phones.
This included an IS video demonstrating, on a real prisoner, how to kill with a knife, as well as footage on how to make a bomb from easily obtainable chemicals and a bulb. Hassan was found in possession of the chemicals mentioned in the footage.
Information about the footage found was heard at a trial last year at Leeds Crown Court, and detectives shared that they also found an image of the drill artist posing with knives and a samurai sword, as well as an unreleased track that listed Western victims of IS beheadings and ending with the line “Central London explosion”.
The outlet also reports one teenage fan of Hassan’s music who exchanged thousands of messages and calls over several months and allegedly “bonded over their extremist beliefs” according to Cdr Richard Smith, former head of Counter Terrorism Command (via BBC).
The jury was told that in their messages they used code words like “cupcakes” to refer to explosives, and “marketplace” to discuss the attack itself. The 15-year-old posed for images of himself with a hunting knife in front of an IS flag, and messaged family members: “I just want martyrdom as soon as possible.”
Hassan also took photos of himself with a machete, a knife and the chemicals he had bought., and was reported as saying: “I need to go out looking nice, though – final moments and that.”
Old Bailey – stock photo. CREDIT: TonyBaggett/Getty Images
The first trial saw the jury unable to decide whether the drill rapper was guilty of preparing a terrorist act, and a second trial in Sheffield collapsed following suggestions that the jurors were falling asleep. Hassan has since pleaded guilty to possessing chemicals for terrorist purposes at the Old Bailey and is set to be sentenced on February 2.
In interviews given to police and at the trials, Hassan said he was a “digital content creator” and that the weapons and chemicals found were merely props for his music videos. The 15-year-old told police that he simply “got taken in by the hype” and “would never intentionally harm anyone”.
Speaking with the outlet, Cdr Richard Smith said that the arrests were made as the police were under “enormous pressure” to ensure that “they didn’t act too late”.
The news of Official TS pleading guilty to the lesser charge of possessing chemicals for terrorist purposes comes following reports that Met Police requests to remove UK drill content from TikTok increased 366 per cent since 2020.
The crackdown on UK drill was also seen earlier this summer when it was confirmed that music videos from UK drill artists could be used as evidence in court.
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