Teenager accused of London terror attack plot was obsessed with Call of Duty, court hears

A teenager accused of plotting a terrorist attack on central London with a drill rapper he met online became obsessed with the violent video game, Call of Duty, he has told a court.

The 15-year-old, from Roundhay, Leeds, who cannot be named, is accused of helping Al-Arfat Hassan, 19, from Enfield, North London, prepare for a knife and bomb attack.

Hassan, who used the stage name TS, gathered hundreds of thousands of fans on YouTube, Spotify and the radio station Kiss FM.

He is accused of planning an attack in central London after viewing an ISIS video tutorial, buying bomb-making chemicals and purchasing knives.

The pair met online after the teenager helped promote Hassan's Islamist drill rap on TikTok, and they started talking about religion and playing PlayStation computer games like Fortnite, Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty, he said.

"Sometime in 2021, I started to spend a lot more time in my room and played a lot more PlayStation and Call of Duty and that is where a lot of the combat gear came from," he told the court, giving evidence in his defence.

"The more I played it, the more I thought, this looks cool."

The teenager bought balaclavas and, on one occasion, military gloves, that he had seen worn in the game, he said.

Teen's interest came from 'way certain knives' were crafted

He described how he spent nine or 10 hours a day playing violent video games, which inspired him to buy knives that were "exactly the same as the ones you see in the games".

"To be honest, I have always had the interest because of the video games I play and the movies that I watch," he said. "I have had the interest for quite an amount of time, I couldn't give a date for when it started.

"With a lot of people my age, if they play the same games and watch the same movies, they will think it is cool.

"My interest comes from the way certain knives and swords are designed and crafted. I will look at it and think, that's cool."

Call of Duty was described as a "first-person shooter" game set on a battlefield or in a city, in which the players could form "Deathmatch" teams and use knives, swords, guns, and rocket-propelled grenades.

The teenager would also play Fortnite, which he described as a "third-person shooter" game where the view is from behind the character, and the aim is to kill 99 other players on an island.

A third game, called Assassin's Creed, was based on different stories from "olden times," the teenager said.

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Posting 'really graphic' drill lyrics online

From late 2019, the teenager also developed an interest in violent drill music, and he got more interested in it during the first lockdown, he said.

The teenager came across Hassan - known as Official TS - in mid or late 2020 when "someone was showing me his music and I liked it and I asked what his name was and was told it was Official TS, and I went from there".

The teenager followed Hassan on Instagram and Snapchat and began messaging him in January last year.

"I had a TikTok account with 15,000 followers, a lot of people were interested in the content I was posting – unusual or scary I guess you could say drill lyrics," he said.

After he came across a track called Satan 2.0, he decided the last section was "really graphic you could say, so I posted it to my TikTok and someone advised me to do that and said it would get a lot of views".

Over time, it collected 700,000 views and Hassan "messaged me about that post, basically thanking me."

Hassan and the teenager deny charges of preparing acts of terrorism. Hassan also denies charges of possessing and disseminating terrorist material.

The trial continues.