A couple accused of plotting a terror attack met on a dating website and shared gruesome videos of ISIS extremists beheading prisoners over WhatsApp, a court heard.
Factory worker Munir Hassan Mohammed, 36, allegedly stockpiled bomb-making ingredients after bonding with qualified pharmacist Rowaida El-Hassan, 33, on SingleMuslim.com,
The pair also shared videos of ISIS fighters recruiting children on WhatsApp as their online romance blossomed, jurors heard.
Mohammed told the jury that he looked at ISIS videos on Facebook because he was “curious”.
But he told the Old Bailey from the witness box that he did not support ISIS and added: “I am normal, in the middle. I am moderate.”
He said ISIS were considered outside of Islam and claimed that the use of violence to achieve political aims was “unacceptable”.
Mohammed admitted accessing large quantities of extremist material and ISIS propaganda and forwarding it to El-Hassan.
He said: “I access the material of ISIS on Facebook, it is mainly for curiosity.
“I wanted to know the point of view because these are not readily available. I wanted to know what they say Islamically about religion because they claim they are religious.
“If you have a friend on Facebook and this person liked this material it would automatically come into my timeline so I would be able to have access to it.”
Asked if he was an Islamic extremist loyal to ISIS and was planning acts of terrorism in the UK, he replied: “No”.
Mohammed said he was born a Christian in Eritrea and last saw his father, a soldier, in 1986 when they left for Sudan because of the Civil War.
He told the court he became a Muslim at around the time of his mother’s death in 1996.
Mohammed left Sudan to go to Libya and spent 11 years there until the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
He claimed he worked first as a farmer and then as an observer of seismic activity for a Chinese petroleum company.
The prosecution claim Mohammed was radicalised by an ISIS commander on Facebook and wanted to carry out a deadly terrorist attack.
El-Hassan, who has a Masters degree in pharmacy from University College London, allegedly used her expert knowledge of chemicals to help Mohammed research a bomb, the Old Bailey heard.
Counter terror officers found bomb manuals and instructions for ricin and mobile phone detonators when they raided Mohammed’s Derby home on 12 December last year, it is said.
They also discovered 200ml of Hydrogen Peroxide and 500ml of Hydrochloric Acid – two of the components needed to make the unstable explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP).
When another team raided El-Hassan’s home in Willesden, northwest London, on the same day they found a one-litre bottle of drain cleaner which contained Sulphuric Acid at 91 per cent purity – another component of TATP.
Mohammed, of Leopold Street, Derby, and El-Hassan, of Willesden Lane, Willesden, each deny one count of preparing terrorist acts between November 2015 and September last year.
The trial continues.