An aspiring rapper from south east London has denied buying an 18-inch sword for a terror attack saying he had only wanted to be “famous”.

Sahayb Abu, 27, from Norwood, admitted purchasing the sword, a knife, a combat vest, balaclavas and gloves before his arrest on July 9 last year.

But the defendant denied it was in preparation for a terror strike during the pandemic last year.

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Jurors have heard how he donned a balaclava and hat in homemade videos he sent to his brother Muhamed Abu, 32, from Dagenham, who is accused of failing to disclose his activities.

He is also alleged to have discussed guns with an undercover police officer he met through an Islamic State supporters’ Telegram chat group.

On Tuesday, Sahayb Abu went into the witness box at the Old Bailey to give evidence in his defence.

Michael Ivers QC, defending, said the charge he faced related to purchases online and not conversations with the undercover officer Rachid.

Asked if he accepted buying the items, the defendant said: “I purchased them.”

Mr Ivers said: “Did you do so with the intention of committing acts of terrorism?”

Sahayb Abu said: “Of course not.”

He told jurors how he grew up in Ilford listening to grime artists such as Notorious BIG.

He said: “I was more into music and grime. Everyone else was talking about rap and the latest tunes. It was the culture I grew up in.”

Meanwhile, he had the Koran  from“battered into him” at home with “fist, hand, belt”, he said.

He told jurors: “I just wanted to be a musician, a rapper, famous. I wanted to be famous instead of just books.”

He took the nickname of French after he ran away from home in 2009 and lived in France for three and a half years, he said.

On his return to Britain, he reconnected with his brothers at a snooker club in a “chance meeting – like god planned it”.

He was asked about his relationship with his younger half-brothers Wail and Suleyman Aweys, who are believed to have died in Syria.

At the time they left Britain in 2015, Sahayb Abu said he was a “depressed alcoholic” and a gambler.

His half-brothers were more religious, he said: “I knew they were way more practising than me. I was not practising at all.”

Asked about his reaction to finding out they had gone to Syria, he said: “I was really shocked.”

Their departure left a “gaping hole” and led to gossip about the family, the court heard.

He said: “It went down as a stain and embarrassment. It became a reason for people to gossip and slander our family name.”

By contrast, the defendant said he worked stacking shelves in Poundstretcher before getting a job for Network Rail in 2016.

He was working on the railways in early 2017 when he heard news that his half-brothers were dead.

He said: “My understanding is that Wail died in an air strike and Suleyman been shot in the head.”

In June 2018, the defendant was convicted of a commercial burglary, the court heard.

He served his sentence at Wandsworth and High Down jails, alongside terrorism and non-terrorism inmates, he said.

The prison community would mingle and included various “rappers from the ends”, he said.

Jurors were told how the defendant was released from prison on March 20 last year, less than four months before his arrest.

Sahayb Abu has denied preparation of terrorist acts and Muhamed Abu has pleaded not guilty to failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism.