Man jailed five years for trying to buy grenades from FBI agent

A fraudster who once stole a Saudi Sheikh’s £97,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe has been jailed for five years after he tried to buy grenades from an undercover FBI agent on the dark web. 

Fugitive father-of-three Mohammed Humza, 29, of Watford, failed to turn up for his Old Bailey trial in October and was suspected of travelling to the Pakistani part of Kashmir.

He was found guilty in his absence of attempting to possess an explosive substance for unlawful purposes between July 14 and September 5 2016.

On Friday, prosecutor Ben Holt told the court Humza remained at large and was still ‘very much wanted’.

Mohammed Humza, 29, from Watford, was jailed for five years after trying to buy grenades from an undercover FBI officer on the dark web. He did not attend court and is believed to have fled to Pakistan (pictured in 2017)

Mohammed Humza, 29, from Watford, was jailed for five years after trying to buy grenades from an undercover FBI officer on the dark web. He did not attend court and is believed to have fled to Pakistan (pictured in 2017)

Mohammed Humza, 29, from Watford, was jailed for five years after trying to buy grenades from an undercover FBI officer on the dark web. He did not attend court and is believed to have fled to Pakistan (pictured in 2017)

Humza, who was cheating on his wife with a woman he met at a fish and chip shop, was being watched by British and American security services as he trawled the internet looking for explosives.

An FBI operative – dubbed ‘Peter Agent’ during the trial – infiltrated the now defunct munitions website Alpha Bay in July 2016 and made contact with Humza.

Humza agreed to pay for one F1 grenade and was expecting it to arrive at his next door neighbour’s home under his name.

British agents hacked into Humza’s Microsoft mobile phone and found he was also sending hundreds of messages to a mysterious woman known only as ‘Zeeshan’s Fish and Chips’.

The takeaway located on Tweedle Street, Rochdale, Lancashire was a cover name he devised for his lover Samaya Shaheen so his wife would not suspect anything.

He sent 250 messages to the chip shop woman in one day while also using his Microsoft phone to search for F1 Grenades.

In March 2017, Humza was jailed for four years for stealing a Sheikh Mohammed Alibrahim’s Phantom Coupe Rolls-Royce worth £97,000 after filling out a DVLA form claiming he was the new owner.

Humza drove the supercar out of the Audley Street car park in Mayfair on April 18 2015 and went on to sell it to Shaks Specialist Cars in Huddersfield for £27,500 along with a BMW and a Mercedes, before attempting the same scam on a Ferrari, an Aston Martin and a Porsche 911.

A year later he began searching on the dark web for explosives.

In March 2017, Humza was jailed for four years for stealing a Sheikh Mohammed Alibrahim's Phantom Coupe Rolls-Royce (pictured) worth £97,000 after filling out a DVLA form claiming he was the new owner

In March 2017, Humza was jailed for four years for stealing a Sheikh Mohammed Alibrahim's Phantom Coupe Rolls-Royce (pictured) worth £97,000 after filling out a DVLA form claiming he was the new owner

In March 2017, Humza was jailed for four years for stealing a Sheikh Mohammed Alibrahim’s Phantom Coupe Rolls-Royce (pictured) worth £97,000 after filling out a DVLA form claiming he was the new owner

Holt said the grenades Humza attempted to buy had the potential to cause ‘indiscriminate harm’ if detonated and could have been lethal to people standing nearby.

In mitigation, Francis McGrath suggested Humza’s criminal past had involved offences of dishonesty rather than violence.

Sentencing Humza to five years in jail, Mrs Justice McGowan said the deal with the undercover FBI agent had been ‘doomed to fail’.

But she said: ‘The fact is he tried to get that device and he did everything in his power to achieve that aim.’

The judge accepted the need for a deterrent sentence, saying: ‘There is spurious attraction to the dark web.

‘It was, certainly at the time about which the jury heard, surprisingly easy to gain access to the dark web. I accept that may now no longer be the position, nevertheless that would not stop people from trying.’

During the trial, jurors were told how Humza, going by the username mh.nn243, had approached an FBI agent posing as a seller on dark web trading site AlphaBay in summer 2016.

The site, which has since been closed down, was popular for trading illegal items including drugs, firearms and other weapons.

In a message to the agent in July 2016, Humza asked: ‘What’s the best price you can do for 2 grenades with postage to the UK?’

Humza (pictured) agreed to pay for one F1 grenade and was expecting it to arrive at his next door neighbour's home under his name

Humza (pictured) agreed to pay for one F1 grenade and was expecting it to arrive at his next door neighbour's home under his name

Humza (pictured) agreed to pay for one F1 grenade and was expecting it to arrive at his next door neighbour’s home under his name

He haggled the agent down from 125 US dollars each to 115 US dollars by offering to buy four grenades.

In the exchange, the pair discussed the price of delivery to Watford and Hertfordshire.

After this conversation, the user went quiet and the deal was not completed, but he approached the officer again in early August that year.

He said he had been away for a while and using someone else’s laptop but asked to ‘do 1 custom now’ on a fragmentation grenade.

They agreed a deal for two grenades and Humza placed cryptocurrency funds on escrow (via a third party) at 9.03pm on August 6.

The court heard the grenades were to be sent to Humza’s address in Fuller Road, Watford, but under his neighbour’s name.

After being told by the agent that he was out of stock of grenades and having his cryptocurrency refunded, the user attempted to buy Semtex and a fuse detonator.

It was not in dispute that the dark web deals took place, but it was said on Humza’s behalf that he denied being the person in control of the mh.nn243 user name.

Mrs Justice McGowan did not explain the reasons for Humza’s absence during the trial, only telling the jury: ‘Mr Humza has chosen not to attend his trial.’ 

In legal argument, the court heard that police had tried to track Humza down, speaking to his estranged wife, girlfriend, parents and in-laws.

The court heard that he had previous convictions for fraud and theft, but no terror-related offences.

The Old Bailey (pictured, stock photo) heard Humza asked: 'What's the best price you can do for 2 grenades with postage to the UK?'

The Old Bailey (pictured, stock photo) heard Humza asked: 'What's the best price you can do for 2 grenades with postage to the UK?'

The Old Bailey (pictured, stock photo) heard Humza asked: ‘What’s the best price you can do for 2 grenades with postage to the UK?’

The judge continued: ‘Mr Humza had wanted to obtain this device for the purposes of serious crime.

‘It was clearly a device capable of highly significant harm or death. This is as it was described an anti-personal device. It is is built and designed to injure if not kill.

‘He is still 29 years of age and he is currently on the run which means he has left his wife and family, and so it is difficult to place too much weight on how much of an affect his incarceration would have on his family.’

Humza is described as 5ft 8in, Asian and of medium build. He is known to have links to Birmingham, Luton and Rochdale.

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