The suspected Parsons Green bomber has revealed he wanted to study in Britain so he could become the next David Attenborough.
Ahmed Hassan arrived in the UK as an Iraqi asylum seeker in October 2015 and told immigration officials he had been kidnapped by Isis, the Old Bailey heard.
Around 93 passengers on the District Line train ducked for cover when a wall of flames engulfed their carriage during morning rush hour on September 15 last year.
The court heard the 18-year-old media student planted 400g of homemade explosives and shrapnel on the train and timed it to go off when it reached the west London stop.
When he was picked up in Dover the following morning, he told police he had made the bomb, which had only partially exploded, likely saving countless lives.
Giving evidence in his defence, Hassan told jurors he was never taken prisoner by Isis.
Tim Moloney QC, defending, asked: ‘Were you ever mistreated by Isis?’
Hassan replied: ‘No. I have never had any contact with Daesh at all.’
He told jurors he made up the story about being kidnapped by Isis to get leave to remain in Britain.
Asked why, he said: ‘Because I came from a wealthy safe area in northern Iraq in Kurdistan and if I told the truth my only reason to leave the country was to further my studies … I felt I had to make up something strong.
‘In the jungle in Calais people used to talk about these things and make up stories. I never came across a refugee who said he would tell the truth when he arrived in the country.
‘I wanted to go to university and my ultimate goal was to become a wildlife photographer like David Attenborough.’
Hassan told how he was born in Baghdad in Iraq.
His mother died when he was young and his taxi driver father was killed in an explosion in 2006, he said.
‘So far as I’m aware I was told that he died in an explosion while he was working as a taxi driver. He used to go to work and come back evenings and then he did not come back.
‘It was very difficult. I did not understand what was going on. I was in a state of confusion because of fighting, because of bombing.’
The defendant said he decided to leave Iraq because he wanted ‘a better life’.
He said: ‘I wanted studying, I wanted to learn English and there was so much pressure on me to keep on with my job.’
He smuggled himself to Britain in a lorry aged 16 and began a course at Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surrey.
Hassan has continued his studies while in prison so his ‘academic year is not wasted’, he said.
He denies attempted murder and using explosives to endanger life.
The trial continues.