Former soldier sparks major terror alert with ‘killing unbelievers’ text

A major terror alert was sparked when a former soldier and Muslim convert referred to killing “unbelievers” in a text message.

Alexander Tiffin, who had been to Saudi Arabia and Turkey earlier this year, sent disturbing text messages to a member of his mosque five days after the London Bridge attack in June.

The recipient, Shakibur Khan, discussed the tirade with other members of the committee and told the police.

But after a thorough police investigation into Tiffin’s background, computer and contacts, it was concluded that he was not a terrorist – but “an idiot”.

Yesterday at Inverness Sheriff Court, Tiffin, of Kilmuir Place, Invergordon. admitted behaving in a threatening manner on June 8.

Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart described how Tiffin, 29, had converted to Islam less than a year ago. At about 2.45am on the day in question, Mr Khan received a series of text messages from Tiffin’s phone number.

He added: “The first of these messages indicated that he was drunk, but the third said, “I decided to kill the unbelievables”, followed by a text simply stating, “Unbelievers” and another saying, “Allahu Akbar”.

“He was alarmed by the terms of these messages. As he was at that time at the Masjid (mosque) for first prayers, he asked Tiffin to come to the Masjid to talk but received no response.

“After discussing the texts with members of the Masjid Committee and having received a message from one reporting that a red Volvo car such as Tiffin was known to drive had been seen in Inverness, Mr Khan went to Burnett Road Police Station to report his concerns.”

The court heard police launched an investigation and Tiffin was taken into custody. he confirmed the mobile phone number was his, said that he had been exceptionally drunk the night before but accepted that he must have sent the message.

Tiffin told officers he could see why it had would cause so much concern, but claimed to have no memory of having sent it.

He said the text was “the polar opposite” of his beliefs, could not explain why he sent it and apologised.

Mr Urquhart explained that extensive police inquiries established no links to terrorist oranisations, adding: “The conclusion has been that he was an idiot, not a terrorist.”

Sentence was deferred for a background report until September 22 and Tififn was granted bail by Sheriff Margaret Neilson.

Defence lawyer Roger Webb said his client was in a wheelchair due to a psychiatric disorder.

Mr Webb added: “He has spent 75 days in custody to consider what an idiot he has been.”

Co-founder of the Inverness mosque Waheed Khan said last night: “He had a complex social, medical including mental health backgrounds and he had episodes of mood swings and highs and lows in his life.

“I hope he begins a new life. We’ll be very supportive of the long-term rehabilitation.”