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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Man Jailed for Terrorism Offence After Attempting Hostile Reconnaissance in West London

An investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command has led to a man who attempted to carry out hostile reconnaissance at the now-former site of a Persian-language media company being jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, 31 (25.11.1992), an Austrian national, visited Chiswick Business Park in February this year. He was spotted by security guards as he was taking a close interest in a building where media company Iran International was based at that time.

After speaking to Dovtaev a number of times, the guards grew concerned and called police. Officers attended soon after and Dovtaev was quickly arrested.

In the months before, the company had been subjected to serious threats projected from Iran against its staff, which is believed to be in reaction to its reporting of political and social issues in the country.

In response to the growing concerns about these threats, specialist officers from the Met worked closely with Iran International and Chiswick Business Park to strengthen the security at their now-former site.

Following his arrest, Dovtaev’s phone was recovered and analysed by detectives, revealing that he researched the building prior to his arrival in the UK.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey which concluded on Wednesday, 20 December, he was convicted of attempting to collect information likely to be useful for terrorism (contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act).

On Friday, 22 December, Dovtaev was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Dovtaev travelled hundreds of miles with the intention of gathering hostile reconnaissance. It was due to the heightened security, vigilance and decisive actions of security guards that Dovtaev’s activities were quickly spotted, and that led to his arrest.

“Dovtaev never said who he was working for or with and we could find no further evidence of this, but we did find enough evidence to show the jury that he was there to carry out terrorist-related activity.

“His actions were chilling and put into sharp focus our wider concerns about threats emanating from Iran that continue to be directed towards certain individuals and media organisations here in the UK.

“However, the protective security measures we helped to introduce meant his activity was thwarted. We will continue work extremely closely with our intelligence and security partners in the UK and abroad to combat any state threats.”

Following Dovtaev’s arrest, officers quickly gathered crucial CCTV, phone and other evidence which resulted in him being charged within 48 hours.

Detectives found that Dovtaev flew from Vienna to Gatwick Airport on the morning of 11 February. From there, he went straight to Chiswick Business Park in a minicab.

Dovtaev entered the business park and headed straight for the premises occupied by Iran International at the time. He was seen walking around the building perimeter and soon after was approached by a guard and asked what he was doing there.

He claimed to be in the UK visiting his brother, whom he said lived nearby. A while later, he told another guard that he was visiting a friend. Officers would later confirm that he did not have a brother living in the UK.

CCTV recovered by detectives showed Dovtaev appearing to take video of the building with his phone. Although no such videos were found on his device, it is believed that he may have captured a video through an app on his phone, which left no trace.

Detectives found that Dovtaev conducted research about the same office building prior to boarding his flight to London. They found that he viewed a map and pictures of the site. He also viewed a number of videos that had evidently been taken by other unknown people at the same site in the weeks and months prior to his own visit, which had been shared with him via an encrypted messaging app.

Dovtaev was charged on 13 February with collecting information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, (contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000).

At the start of the trial, the charge was amended to attempting to collect information likely to be useful for terrorism.

Iran International are no longer based at the site in Chiswick Business Park and officers continue to provide security advice and support to Iran International as well as other UK-based Persian-language media companies.

We continue to ask the public to remain vigilant and report anything that doesn’t look or feel right to police by calling 0800 789 321 or call 999 if it is an emergency.

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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