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History > 2008 > UK > Terrorism (I)



In ’06 Bomb Plot Trial,

a Question of Imminence


July 15, 2008
The New York Times


LONDON — When Scotland Yard disrupted what it called a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid explosives in August 2006, officials in Britain and the United States said the deadliest terrorist attack since Sept. 11 had been averted.

Air traffic on two continents was paralyzed, and passengers around the world were permanently barred from carrying most liquids onto planes. Terrorism alert levels in both countries were raised. There were claims by American officials that the suspected scheme resembled the work of Al Qaeda.

Now, as the three-month trial of eight defendants draws to a close, prosecutors indeed have presented evidence of meticulous planning, with experiments on a new kind of bomb, research into plane schedules, videos threatening martyrdom, an apartment purchased for more than $270,000 in cash and a mysterious outsider with strong ties to Pakistan.

But the testimony has shown little evidence that the suspects were prepared to strike immediately, or of any link to Al Qaeda — potential vulnerabilities in the case that several defendants have tried to capitalize on in court.

Three defendants pleaded guilty to intent to cause explosions, the judge announced Monday, in what was apparently an attempt to convince the jury that their intention was not to commit mass murder, as prosecutors alleged.

Instead they said they had planned a series of small, nonfatal blasts — “publicity stunts,” one defendant said — to protest British and American foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. The three men, and two others, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause a public nuisance by publishing videos threatening suicide bomb attacks.

Britain does not allow plea bargaining, and the defendants — all British Muslim men, ages 24 to 30, six with family roots in Pakistan — still face more serious charges. They include conspiracy to murder passengers on airplanes.

Peter Wright, the chief prosecutor, urged jurors not to be swayed. “This was for real,” he said. “Human beings ready, able and willing to commit carnage for the sake of Islam.”

Still, the question of imminent threat and the sophistication of the alleged plot has hung over the trial.

At one point, after a videotape of a simulated liquid bomb explosion was shown in court, the judge, David Calvert-Smith, reminded jurors that there was no evidence that the suspects had fabricated a bomb.

“We need to deal with the fact that this is an allegation of conspiracy rather than the actual causing of explosion or murder,” he said.

In building the case that the men were getting close to an actual attack, prosecutors have used evidence from several months of police surveillance; thousands of items seized in 69 searches; DNA and chemical analyses; phone taps; Internet, e-mail and other audio and video monitoring; travel records; and the defendants’ own words.

Surveillance inside their run-down London apartment, notes, bomb-making materials and the suspects’ testimony indicate that they were trying to make an ingenious liquid bomb.

Bomb in a Drink

Using a sealed 17-ounce sports drink, the men planned to drain the plastic bottle through a tiny hole in the bottom and then inject an explosive mix of concentrated hydrogen peroxide, along with food coloring to make it look like the original beverage. An instant glue would seal it shut. AA batteries filled with the explosive HMTD would serve as the detonator; a disposable camera would serve as the trigger.

Prosecutors said the men had planned to carry the components onto seven trans-Atlantic planes, assemble them and then explode them in midair.

The jury was shown a videotape of an explosion of a bomb built by government scientists to be identical to those the defendants are accused of trying to make. Thick panels of reinforced plastic were blown to the floor as the device exploded.

In cross-examining Keith Ritchie, the government scientist who testified about the simulated explosion, however, a defense lawyer, Malcolm Bishop, said, “Such a plot was unattainable and really amounts to no more than prosecution fantasy.”

The strongest evidence is against Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, a husband and father who studied computer-systems engineering and has been described by the prosecution as the ringleader.

A computer memory stick found in his pocket when he was arrested highlighted timetables of seven daily one-way flights to cities in the United States and Canada. It also contained baggage information, security guidance about what could be carried as hand luggage and information about Heathrow Airport.

In a conversation recorded by the police, Mr. Ali discussed “locations in the U.S.A.” and the desire to find the most popular destinations for British travelers, the prosecution said.

His address book included handwritten notes that prosecutors called a plot “blueprint”: “Clean batteries, perfect disguise, drink bottles,” and “Check time to fill each bottle.” He also wrote: “Select date. Five days before. All link up, prepare.” There were references to taking along pornographic magazines “to distract,” condoms, toothpaste, a toothbrush and aftershave.

It was Mr. Ali who recruited five friends and acquaintances living in and around the east and north fringes of London to make videos threatening martyrdom, filming them wearing black and white head scarves in front of a black flag with Arabic script and coaching them along the way.

He ordered them to apply for “clean” replacement passports without suspicious stamps to places like Pakistan, according to the defendants’ testimony.

In his own video, he thanked God for giving him the chance to “lead this blessed operation” and said that body parts would be “decorating the streets” of the Western world if Britain and the United States did not stop “meddling” in Muslim lands.

Prosecutors described the second key operative as Assad Sarwar, 28, who bought and stockpiled bomb-making materials and was responsible for experimenting with hydrogen peroxide and HMTD. A college dropout who studied earth sciences, he held such odd jobs as supermarket re-shelver and postman and first met Mr. Ali on a trip to Pakistan with an organization called the Islamic Medical Association in 2002.

During cross-examination, Mr. Sarwar explained in detail how to concentrate hydrogen peroxide to bomb-making levels, rattling off the difficult formula with chilling accuracy. He was also watched buying a suitcase and walking in a wooded area where the police later found a partly buried suitcase filled with materials to make HMTD.

Mr. Ali, Mr. Sarwar and a third suspect, Tanvir Hussain, 27, have admitted they were making explosives, but deny they wanted to blow up airplanes or kill anyone. The goal, they said, was simply to cause alarm and panic with small blasts to protest American and British policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. Mr. Ali described their plan as a “publicity stunt.”

Last Thursday, in closed court, Mr. Ali, Mr. Sarwar and Mr. Hussain pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion. In addition, the three men and two others, Ibrahim Savant, 27, and Umar Islam, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause a public nuisance by publishing videos threatening suicide attacks.

Threat of Martyrdom

Four of the suspects were foot soldiers who made videos threatening martyrdom. They include Mr. Savant, a convert to Islam with Anglo-Indian roots who worked in his British mother’s bookkeeping business; Mr. Islam, a convert and former Rastafarian of Caribbean origin; Arafat Waheed Khan, 27, a newly engaged former cellphone shop employee; and Waheed Zaman, 24, a former biomedical college student who once headed his university’s Islamic organization.

All four deny any knowledge of a bomb plot or intention to commit suicide, insisting their videos were to be part of a documentary.

Mr. Ali said during his testimony that he initially wanted to attack the House of Commons in central London but that security was so tight he switched to Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3. He described their plan as a “publicity stunt,” and said he expected to go to prison.

Some of the suspects claimed to have been tricked by Mr. Ali into making videos that they were told were for a documentary in which their identities would be disguised.

The most tantalizing foreign link is the role played by Mohammed Gulzar, 26, a defendant who was on the run from a serious crime committed in Britain in 2002 and who prosecutors call a “shadowy figure” and an “international terrorist.” He moved to South Africa two years later.

He turned up again in Britain with false documents posing as a honeymooner, met the two main defendants and communicated with them from phone booths using phone cards. He was also in regular phone contact with Pakistan and in possession of the same type of Toshiba batteries manufactured for sale in Pakistan as the ones used by the bomb makers.

Mr. Wright, the prosecutor, described him as a “sleeper” terrorist who was waiting for instructions from his “superiors in Pakistan” to strike.

Mr. Gulzar denied the charges, saying he was a missionary for a Muslim revivalist movement.

Link to Al Qaeda Seen

In the immediate aftermath of the arrests in 2006, American officials were quick to suggest links to Al Qaeda. Since then, both the American and British authorities say they are more convinced that the scheme was the work of Al Qaeda.

In Congressional testimony in early 2007, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, described the group as “an Al Qaeda cell, directed by Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, that planned to bomb nearly a dozen U.S. airliners bound for the U.S. in midair.” He stands by that testimony today, his office said.

In a telephone interview, Michael Chertoff, the United States homeland security secretary, said, “If you look objectively at the nature of the plot, the multiple planes, its sophistication and high consequences, it certainly resembles plotting we’ve seen with Al Qaeda.”

British investigators are convinced that the size, scope, cost, secrecy and ingenuity of the plot bear the Qaeda signature; they say they believe that the cell learned to make the liquid explosive device from Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing British rules on confidentiality regarding criminal prosecutions.

During the trial, Mr. Sarwar admitted that during a trip to Pakistan between mid-June and early July 2006, a friend told him how to make the explosive HMTD.

He said that the friend, whom he identified as Jameel Shah, was a Kashmiri freedom fighter. “He told me what I needed to do,” Mr. Sarwar said.

Mr. Wright also insisted that the plotters were “almost ready” to spring into action, but he admitted that there was no evidence that a date had been chosen.

The group had not yet made the HMTD or refined the hydrogen peroxide to the correct concentration. Some of the suspects did not yet have new passports. Some stumbled or smiled during their videos, giving them an amateurish quality. No plane tickets had been purchased. Mr. Ali testified that he thought they were being watched and had put the plan on hold.

In cross-examination, Mr. Ritchie, the government scientist, testified that making the liquid bomb required lengthy research, and that the preparation and transportation of liquid explosive materials would be extremely hazardous.

Asked in the interview whether the suspects could have pulled off the attacks, Mr. Chertoff was circumspect, saying, “In general, the amount of damage and consequences depend on a lot of things: how skillful the operation is, where the bomb is detonated, and how competent the operation is.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington,
John F. Burns from London and Basil Katz from Paris.

    In ’06 Bomb Plot Trial, a Question of Imminence, NYT, 15.7.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/world/europe/15terror.html






10.15am BST

Survivors remember

July 7 London bombings,

three years on


Monday July 7, 2008
Paul Lewis and agencies
This article was first published
on guardian.co.uk on Monday July 07 2008.
It was last updated at 11:27 on July 07 2008.


Survivors and relatives of the victims of the July 7 London bombings gathered at the sites of the four blasts today to mark three years since the terrorist attacks.

Hundreds came together at King's Cross station to remember the 52 people killed.

Among those laying flowers outside the station at 8.50am, the time the first three bombs exploded, were the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Tessa Jowell, the government minister for the capital.

The mayor's memorial card said: "We honour the memory of those who died on 7/7 2005, we salute the courage of those who were injured and our thoughts and prayers are with all victims and their families."

Ms Jowell said: "People have shown great courage in the progress they have made in moving forward with their lives since the atrocities of three years ago.

"This formal act of remembrance at King's Cross will give bereaved families, survivors and the country the chance to remember and pay their respects to the 52 innocent lives lost and demonstrate our support, ensuring that those lost will never be forgotten."

The station was crowded with commuters, and some passersby paused to pay their respects.

There were also small gatherings at Russell Square, Aldgate and Edgware Road tube stations, and Tavistock Square.

There is a private meeting planned today for people directly affected by the attacks who want to share their thoughts.

Today's commemoration has raised questions about compensation paid to over 700 people injured in the blasts. More than 70 compensation claims are yet to be fully paid out.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority said it had "fully resolved" almost 90% of cases, paying out almost £7.5m.

Some victims of the bombings have indicated they do not want to mark the date, wanting instead to put the attacks behind them.

Raj Babbra, 31, is using the date to launch a short documentary he has made about his ex-girlfriend, Benedetta Ciaccia, 30, who was killed in the Aldgate explosion.

"I wanted to make viewers realise these aren't other people; this happened to people just like them," Babbra said of the film, titled 7/7: Life Without Benedetta.

    Survivors remember July 7 London bombings, three years on, G, 7.7.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jul/07/july7.london






Cheer up.

We're winning this War on Terror

Al-Qaeda and the Taleban are in retreat,
the surge has worked in Iraq and Islamism is discredited.
Not a bad haul


June 27, 2008
From The Times
Gerard Baker


"My centre is giving way. My right is in retreat. Situation excellent. I shall attack!”

If only our political leaders and opinion-formers displayed even a hint of the defiant resilience that carried Marshal Foch to victory at the Battle of the Marne. But these days timorous defeatism is on the march. In Britain setbacks in the Afghan war are greeted as harbingers of inevitable defeat. In America, large swaths of the political class continues to insist Iraq is a lost cause. The consensus in much of the West is that the War on Terror is unwinnable.

And yet the evidence is now overwhelming that on all fronts, despite inevitable losses from time to time, it is we who are advancing and the enemy who is in retreat. The current mood on both sides of the Atlantic, in fact, represents a kind of curious inversion of the great French soldier's dictum: “Success against the Taleban. Enemy giving way in Iraq. Al-Qaeda on the run. Situation dire. Let's retreat!”

Since it is remarkable how pervasive this pessimism is, it's worth recapping what has been achieved in the past few years.

Afghanistan has been a signal success. There has been much focus on the latest counter-offensive by the Taleban in the southeast of the country and it would be churlish to minimise the ferocity with which the terrorists are fighting, but it would be much more foolish to understate the scale of the continuing Nato achievement. Establishing a stable government for the whole nation is painstaking work, years in the making. It might never be completed. But that was not the principal objective of the war there.

Until the US-led invasion in 2001, Afghanistan was the cockpit of ascendant Islamist terrorism. Consider the bigger picture. Between 1998 and 2005 there were five big terrorist attacks against Western targets - the bombings of the US embassies in Africa in 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, 9/11, and the Madrid and London bombings in 2004 and 2005. All owed their success either exclusively or largely to Afghanistan's status as a training and planning base for al-Qaeda.

In the past three years there has been no attack on anything like that scale. Al-Qaeda has been driven into a state of permanent flight. Its ability to train jihadists has been severely compromised; its financial networks have been ripped apart. Thousands of its activists and enablers have been killed. It's true that Osama bin Laden's forces have been regrouping in the border areas of Pakistan but their ability to orchestrate mass terrorism there is severely attenuated. And there are encouraging signs that Pakistanis are starting to take to the offensive against them.

Next time you hear someone say that the war in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility ask them this: do they seriously think that if the US and its allies had not ousted the Taleban and sustained an offensive against them for six years that there would have been no more terrorist attacks in the West? What characterised Islamist terrorism before the Afghan war was increasing sophistication, boldness and terrifying efficiency. What has characterised the terrorist attacks in the past few years has been their crudeness, insignificance and a faintly comical ineptitude (remember Glasgow airport?)

The second great advance in the War on Terror has been in Iraq. There's no need to recapitulate the disasters of the US-led war from the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003 to his execution at the end of 2006. We may never fully make up for three and a half lost years of hubris and incompetence but in the last 18 months the change has been startling.

The “surge”, despite all the doubts and derision at the time, has been a triumph of US military planning and execution. Political progress was slower in coming but is now evident too. The Iraqi leadership has shown great courage and dispatch in extirpating extremists and a growing willingness even to turn on Shia militias. Basra is more peaceful and safer than it has been since before the British moved in. Despite setbacks such as yesterday's bombings, the streets of Iraq's cities are calmer and safer than they have been in years. Seventy companies have bid for oil contracts from the Iraqi Government. There are signs of a real political reconciliation that may reach fruition in the election later this year.

The third and perhaps most significant advance of all in the War on Terror is the discrediting of the Islamist creed and its appeal.

This was first of all evident in Iraq, where the head-hacking frenzy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates so alienated the majority of Muslims that it gave rise to the so-called Sunni Awakening that enabled the surge to be so effective.

But it has spread way beyond Iraq. As Lawrence Wright described in an important piece in The New Yorker last month, there is growing disgust not just among moderate Muslims but even among other jihadists at the extremism of the terrorists.

Deeply encouraging has been the widespread revulsion in Muslim communities in Europe - especially in Britain after the 7/7 attacks of three years ago. Some of the biggest intelligence breakthroughs in the past few years have been achieved from former al-Qaeda supporters who have turned against the movement.

There ought to be no surprise here. It's only their apologists in the Western media who really failed to see the intrinsic evil of Islamists. Those who have had to live with it have never been in much doubt about what it represents. Ask the people of Iran. Or those who fled the horrors of Afghanistan under the Taleban.

This is why we fight. Primarily, of course, to protect ourselves from the immediate threat of terrorist carnage, but also because we know that extending the embrace of a civilisation that liberates everyone makes us all safer.

Every death is an unspeakable tragedy. It's right that each time a soldier is killed in action we ask why. Was it really worth it?

The right response to the loss of brave souls such as Corporal Sarah Bryant, the first British woman to die in Afghanistan, is not an immediate call for retreat. It is, first of all, pride; a great, deep conviction that it is on such sacrifice that our own freedoms have always rested. Then, defiance. How foolish is the enemy that it might think our grief is really some prelude to their victory? Finally, confidence. We are prevailing in this struggle. We know it. And everywhere: in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and among Muslims around the world, the enemy knows it too.

    Cheer up. We're winning this War on Terror, Ts, 27.6.2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/gerard_baker/article4221376.ece






1.15pm BST update

Abu Hamza loses legal fight

against extradition to US


Friday June 20, 2008
David Batty and agencies
This article was first published
on guardian.co.uk on Friday June 20 2008.
It was last updated at 13:23 on June 20 2008.


The radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza today lost his high court battle against extradition to the US, where he faces terrorism charges.

Two judges ruled that the decision to extradite Egyptian-born Hamza, who lives in west London, was "unassailable".

The 51-year-old cleric is serving a seven-year jail sentence for stirring up racial hatred and inciting followers to murder non-Muslims.

The US wants him to stand trial for allegedly attempting to set up a training camp for "violent jihad" in Bly, Oregon, in 1999. It accuses him of sending one of his followers to an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.

US authorities claim he aided the taking hostage of 16 western tourists in Yemen in December 1998, which resulted in the deaths of three Britons and an Australian.

Hamza could face up to 100 years in prison for a total of 11 terrorism charges, including sending money and recruits to assist the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Today, Sir Igor Judge and Mr Justice Sullivan, sitting at the high court in London, gave Hamza's lawyers 14 days to apply for leave to launch a final appeal to the House of Lords after dismissing his case.

During the extradition hearing, the cleric's legal team claimed a US prison could endanger his health and give him almost no access to his family, who could be barred from entering the country.

However, Westminster magistrates court ruled last November that there was no bar to Hamza's extradition.

The senior district judge Timothy Workman ruled that the gravity of the allegations and the public interest of honouring the extradition treaty "outweighed the inevitable interference with Hamza's family life".

In February, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, gave the final approval for Hamza's extradition.

Today, the high court judges said they had reached the "clear conclusion that the order made by Judge Workman was properly made, and that the subsequent decision of the [home secretary] was unassailable".

Hamza's lawyers argued that extradition was unlawful because he would be tried in the US "on the basis of the fruits of torture". They said there was clear evidence that torture was used on some individuals in the process of gathering the information that led to the extradition request.

They contended that it would be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite because of the passage of time, and would be incompatible with Hamza's human rights. They said any further trial should take place in London. The judges rejected all the arguments.

They said the submission that the US evidence was "tainted by torture" and therefore inadmissible was flawed. The judges ruled that none of the material relied on by the US authorities "carries anything of the smell of the torture chamber sufficient to require its exclusion in a trial in this country".

The allegation of torture made by Hamza's defence team had been made "in the most general terms, unsupported by evidence", the judges ruled. It failed to distinguish between evidence "which is the indirect fruits of torture and that which is indirectly obtained as a result of ill-treatment falling short of torture".

Hamza's future now depends on whether the judges are prepared to certify that his case raises a question of law fit for consideration by the House of Lords.

Washington has assured the UK that Hamza would not face the death penalty or be sent to Guantánamo Bay or one of the other secret prisons at which torture is allegedly used. In November, the US state department said it wanted to put him on trial in New York.

Hamza once ran the Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, which police claimed he turned into a haven for terrorists. He was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2006 on six charges of incitement to murder and lesser charges of threatening behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred and of possessing the Encyclopaedia of Afghan Jihad, a document "useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

A source close to Hamza told the Guardian that the cleric was an "unwitting informant" for MI5, providing information on jihadists whose views he considered more extreme than his own. In court last November, Hamza said that, during his many meetings with the security services and anti-terrorism officers, he believed a deal operated under which his activities would be tolerated as long as they had targets abroad.

    Abu Hamza loses legal fight against extradition to US, G, 20.6.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jun/20/uksecurity.terrorism






4.30pm BST

Abu Qatada:

Radical preacher freed on bail


Tuesday June 17 2008
Allegra Stratton and agencies
This article was first published
on guardian.co.uk on Tuesday June 17 2008.
It was last updated at 19:01 on June 17 2008


Abu Qatada, once described as Osama bin Laden's righthand man in Europe, will be freed on bail in the next 24 hours.

The move comes despite a government promise that the radical preacher would not be released.

A senior judge today signed papers authorising Qatada's release. It is believed he will be subjected to a 22-hour home curfew and other restrictions on his liberty.

Qatada won his fight against deportation to Jordan from Britain in April, but the government is currently appealing against the decision. The Home Office minister, Tony McNulty, said at the time that he would not be released.

Qatada, a Palestinian Jordanian, arrived in the UK on a forged United Arab Emirates passport in September 1993.

The following June, he was allowed to stay in the country after claiming asylum for himself and his family.

In December 2001, he became a fugitive on the eve of government moves to introduce new anti-terror laws allowing suspects to be detained without charge or trial.

After he was tracked down and imprisoned in Belmarsh, he was briefly freed on bail before being returned to custody at Long Lartin jail in Worcestshire pending extradition to Jordan.

    Abu Qatada: Radical preacher freed on bail, G, 17.6.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jun/17/uksecurity.ukcrime1






4.15pm BST update

'Lyrical terrorist'

has conviction quashed


Tuesday June 17 2008
Lee Glendinning and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Tuesday June 17 2008.
It was last updated at 16:33 on June 17 2008.


A former Heathrow shop assistant who called herself the "lyrical terrorist" and was the first woman sentenced under new anti-terror laws today had her conviction overturned.

Samina Malik, 24, from Southall, west London, was convicted under section 58 of the Terrorism Act in November last year after she wrote poems celebrating the beheading of non-Muslims.

Today, she won an appeal against her conviction for collecting personal information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

The lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, sitting in the court of appeal with Justice Goldring and Justice Plender, quashed the conviction after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) conceded it was unsafe.

Phillips said: "We consider that there is a very real danger that the jury became confused and that the prosecution have rightly conceded that this conviction is unsafe."

Malik was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months. At her trial, the judge, Peter Beaumont QC, the recorder of London, said her offence ''was on the margin of what this crime concerns''.

One of her poems, called How to Behead, said: "It's not messy or as hard as some may think, It's all about the flow of the wrist… You'll feel the knife hit the wind and food pipe, But Don't Stop, Continue with all your might."

She also wrote on the back of a till receipt: "The desire within me increases every day to go for martyrdom."

Malik, who worked at Heathrow's airside branch of WH Smith, said she chose to call herself the lyrical terrorist because she thought it was cool, and denied she was an actual terrorist.

Phillips explained in today's judgment that in February the court of appeal gave detailed consideration to section 58 of the Terrorism Act. It ruled that an offence would be committed only if the document or record concerned was likely to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Propagandist or theological material did not fall within the section, he said.

In Malik's case, the jury was told 14 documents - out of 21 – that did not fall within Section 58 were also capable of founding a conviction.

Malik was acquitted of the more serious charge, under section 57 of the Act, of possessing an article for terrorist purposes.

The CPS said it had decided not to seek a retrial in the case.

Sue Hemming, the head of the CPS's counterterrorism division, said Malik had not been prosecuted for her poetry, but for possessing documents that could provide practical assistance to terrorists.

Since Malik's conviction the law had been clarified by the court of appeal, she said.

"The result is that some of the 21 documents we relied on in Ms Malik's trial would no longer be held capable of giving practical assistance to terrorists.

"However, other documents in her possession, including the al-Qaida Manual, the Terrorist's Handbook, the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook and several military manuals, clearly retain that potential.

"We therefore have no doubt that it was right to bring this prosecution."

    'Lyrical terrorist' has conviction quashed, G, 17.6.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jun/17/uksecurity.ukcrime






21/7 bomber's wife Yeshi Girma

guilty of keeping bomb plot secret


June 11, 2008
From Times Online
Philippe Naughton


The wife of the failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman was found guilty today of failing to tell police about his plans for "carnage and mass murder" on the London transport network.

Yeshi Girma, 32, knew of her husband's plot and could have stopped the July 21, 2005, attacks from going ahead, the court heard. It was only the botched bomb-making of Osman and his fellow terrorists that saved a repeat of the carnage wreaked on July 7, two weeks before.

Just over half an hour after his failed attack on Shepherd’s Bush Tube station, Osman was on the phone to his wife to set in motion an escape plan. Girma, the mother of Osman’s three children, helped him flee to Brighton. He later took a Eurostar train to Paris then travelled on to Rome, where he was arrested.

Also convicted after a four-month trial at the Old Bailey were Osman's sister-in-law and brother-in-law. All three will be sentenced tomorrow.

Mulu Girma, 24, from Brighton, and Esayas Girma, 22, from Stockwell, Yeshi Girma’s sister and brother, were both convicted of helping Osman and of failing to disclose information. Mulu’s boyfriend, Mohamed Kabashi, 25, from Brighton, had already pleaded guilty to both charges before the three-and-a-half-month trial.

The court heard that, after Osman’s bomb failed to explode at around 12.30pm on July 21, he called Yeshi at 1.09pm. Later she was in contact with both her brrther in London and sister in Brighton. She drove with Esayas to pick up Osman from Wandsworth and delivered him to Mulu in Brighton.

She then returned to London with Esayas to remove property from her and Osman’s home and withdraw cash for his use.

Esayas also provided his brother-in-law with a new Sim card, and helped him find accommodation and transport in Brighton and dispose of "incriminating items".

Mulu helped Osman by providing accommodation and medical help, washing or disposing of clothes, and helping him get around Brighton. She had been with Kabashi at her flat in Brighton when he was brought there.

Max Hill, prosecuting, said the "suicidal intentions" of Osman and the other bombers did not provide for an escape plan when their plan went wrong. When they had to go on the run, they "mobilised close and trusted associates to assist them in their escape".

The court heard that Yeshi Girma knew that her husband had fallen under the spell of radical Islamists. She even allowed him to take their young son away to a training camp in Cumbria where he met four of the five other July 21 plotters. Her own fingerprints were discovered on tapes featuring "extremist Islamic preaching" by firebrands such as Abu Hamza.

Mr Hill said: "Yeshi Girma had prior knowledge of the events of 21/7. She had some information about what the bombers intended to do on 21/7, but failed to bring this to the attention of the police.

"Had the bombers successfully and completely detonated the bombs on busy Tube trains that day, there would have been carnage and mass murder. Armed with that prior knowledge of what was going to happen, Yeshi Girma could have attempted to prevent the attacks, which, but for shortcomings in the production of the explosive devices, would have killed and injured many people."

Girma claimed in court that despite having three children with Osman she was not married to him, did not live with him, and knew little of what he was doing.

Osman was convicted of conspiracy to murder at Woolwich Crown Court last year alongside fellow bombers Yassin Omar, Ramzi Mohamed and Muktar Ibrahim, while plotters Manfo Asiedu and Adel Yahya pleaded guilty to other charges.

Yeshi Girma’s prior knowledge of the attack was shown by the fact that the day before, she took extremist audio tapes he owned across London to "bequeath" to Muhedin Ali, knowing they would never be needed again.

Ali was one of five men convicted earlier this year at Kingston Crown Court of helping the bombers.

Mr Hill said that, knowing of the attacks, Yeshi had a legal duty to tell police. "Had she done so the events of 21/7 might have been averted, events which could have been as devastating as the carnage of 7/7 had the bombers fully achieved their aims," he said.

He said she must have been aware of her husband’s growing radicalisation when in May 2004 their young son went with him to the training camp at Langdale, Cumbria, also attended by the three other bombers and Yahya.

By April 2005, when Ibrahim had returned from training in Pakistan, the planning for July 21 was "escalating", the court heard. Mobile phone and CCTV evidence showed that from April to July planning meetings between Ibrahim, Omar and Osman were taking place in and around Osman and his wife’s flat at Blair House.

    21/7 bomber's wife Yeshi Girma guilty of keeping bomb plot secret, Ts, 11.6.2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4112705.ece






6.15pm BST update

Brown wins dramatic victory

on 42-day detention


Wednesday June 11 2008
Deborah Summers and Jenny Percival
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Wednesday June 11 2008.
It was last updated at 18:23 on June 11 2008.


Gordon Brown tonight won a knife-edge victory to allow terror suspects to be detained for up to 42 days without charge.

In a dramatic vote MPs backed the proposals by 315 to 306.

The victory is belived to have been made possible because of the backing of the nine members of the Democratic Unionist party.

It is understood there were 37 Labour rebels.

With less than two hours to go before the vote Downing Street admitted that its latest advice from the Labour whips' office was "if the vote was to take place now, the government would not have enough votes to win".

The belief that the vote would be extremely tight was reinforced by the DUP's reluctance to say whether its members were going to support the government.

One Labour MP backing the PM suggested some Tory MPs expected to vote with the government were being encouraged by their whips to go home before the vote took place.

The prime minister's spokesman sought to play down suggestions that Labour rebels were being persuaded to support Brown with promises of a policy changes, such as dropping sanctions against Cuba and offers of £3,000-a-day compensation for suspects unlawfully detained under the new law.

He would only say Britain's position on Cuba was an issue "kept under review" and that since the sanctions were imposed by the EU it was up to the EU presidency to decide whether to take a fresh look at them.

On compensation for terror suspects, the spokesman said people who had been imprisoned unlawfully could already seek redress through the civil courts. "It's not a great issue of principle at stake here," he said. However, he did confirm the Home Office was in the process of working out details of how suspects detained under the proposed laws could be compensated.

Mohammad Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Govan, decided to back the government after he was told anyone locked up for as long as 42 days and then released without charge would receive compensation on a day-by-day basis.

At prime minister's questions earlier today, Brown urged MPs to back 42-day detention without charge for terrorism suspects or face the risk of having to rush through emergency measures "in a moment of panic".

Squaring up to his opponents ahead of tonight's crunch vote, Brown told critics he would take "no risks with security".

"Every senior policeman and every senior member of the security services have convinced me that an extension to 42 days' pre-charge detention is needed," Brown said. "I don't want, in a moment of panic, to come to the house for emergency measures."

But the Conservative leader, David Cameron, insisted prosecutors and security services believed the new powers were unnecessary.

In a fierce Commons clash, he branded the government's plans "unworkable" and a "symbolic assault on liberty that is unnecessary".

"Isn't it clear the terrorists want to destroy our freedom and when we trash our liberties we are doing their work for them?" Cameron asked.

Brown hit back, insisting: "It's no good to have opposition for opposition's sake. We have to take no risks with security."

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, accused the prime minister of "playing politics with civil liberties" and insisted that "no one" thought an extension from 28 to 42 days was necessary.

Brown replied that it was not only popular but also "necessary and right".

This evening's vote comes after weeks of arm-twisting and cajoling by ministers to try to win round waverers on the Labour benches.

Earlier today the shadow home secretary, David Davis, said it looked like the government would win, but he said that the Tories would carry the battle to the House of Lords, where opposition is thought to be far more entrenched.

A Conservative government would "almost certainly" reverse the plans, Davis said.

    Brown wins dramatic victory on 42-day detention, G, 11.6.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/jun/11/terrorism.uksecurity






Q&A: 42-day detention


Tuesday June 10 2008
Rosalind Ryan, Louise Radnofsky and Elizabeth Stewart
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Tuesday June 10 2008.
It was last updated at 10:37 on June 10 2008.


Why is the 42 days story in the news again today?

MPs will today begin a two-day debate in the Commons on the report stage of the counter-terrorism bill, which includes a controversial new measure to extend the current detention-without-charge limit for terror suspects from 28 days to 42 days.

Who is opposed to the move?

The government's plans have met with strong opposition from within Labour's own ranks, as well as among Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Last week the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, announced a range of concessions or "safeguards" in an attempt to win over Labour backbenchers and avert a damaging government defeat.

What were the concessions?

Although the government refused to budge on the issue of 42 days, Smith outlined a number of "safeguards". These included:

• declaring that there is an "exceptional need" to use the power, such as in the aftermath of an atrocity,

• authorisation by parliament, possibly within seven days,

• judicial review of the use of the power.

What were the orginal proposals?

Originally, the home secretary would have been able to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days in relation to any ongoing investigation. Though she would be obliged to make a statement to the Commons within two days, parliament might not get a chance to vote on it for another 30. Critics said that was too long a gap.


Where did the number 42 come from?

In last year's Queen's speech, the government said it was only "considering options" for extending pre-charge detention beyond 28 days. It had previously been pushing for a 30-day increase, to 58 days. Forty-two seems to be a compromise.


Why does the government want to extend the detention period?

Terror plots are often highly complex and involve international networks, ministers and the Metropolitan police say.

Early intervention is crucial, meaning arrests have to be made on intelligence rather than evidence that could be used in court.

Collecting computer-encrypted data, carrying out investigations into chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and gathering evidence from scenes of attack are all very difficult and time-consuming. The home secretary said the 42-day limit would apply only in "exceptional circumstances".


What would happen under a state of emergency?

There can already be a 30-day extension under a state of emergency, which the government is reluctant to call because it would cause panic and boost terrorists' confidence.


Has the government tried to extend the limit before?

Yes. Tony Blair tried to extend the then-14-day limit to 90 days in November 2005 but was defeated in the House of Commons. The current 28-day limit was a compromise.


Who else is in favour of an extension?

Sir Ian Blair, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, last year told the home affairs select committee that he thought that "at some stage 28 days is not going to be sufficient, and the worst time to debate whether an extension is needed would be in the aftermath of an atrocity".

Ken Jones, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has said: "There is a pressing need to consider now the best way of responding to cases likely to arise in the future where the complexities of gathering evidence mean the current limit of 28 days would prove insufficient."


Who opposes an extension?

Key Labour backbenchers have already spoken out against Smith's proposals, including Andrew Dismore, the chairman of the parliamentary joint human rights committee, and David Winnick, who led the revolt against a proposed 90-day limit in 2005.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, has argued that the home secretary cannot come before parliament to discuss individual cases because of the risk of prejudicing a trial.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, says there is no "compelling evidence" that an extension is necessary.

Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, and the current director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, have also said that they see no need to extend the current limit.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the civil rights pressure group Liberty, says that the UK already has "the longest period of pre-charge detention in the west". She has accused the home secretary of wasting "so much goodwill and months of so-called consensus building on national security".


What happens now?

The report stage of the counter-terrorism bill will begin today and MPs are due to vote on the issue at around 7pm tomorrow.

    Q&A: 42-day detention, G, 10.6.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/jun/10/terrorism.uksecurity1






42-day detention:

the threat to our liberty

The Government's plan is simply part
of an assault on our ancient rights


June 6, 2008
From The Times
John Major


The Government's legislation to permit 42 days pre-charge detention brings to the fore the wider question of civil liberties. In their response to the security threat ministers have dragged us ever closer to a society in which ancient rights are seriously damaged. I doubt this is the Government's intention, but it is the effect. It began with Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq was justified by overegging the threat of Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction - perhaps that error was genuine.

But the case for war was embellished by linking the Iraqi regime to the 9/11 attacks on New York - for which there is not one shred of evidence. As we moved towards war, that misinformation was compounded by the implication that Saddam's Iraq was a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom, which plainly it was not.

These actions damaged our reputation overseas. And, at home - on the back of the threat of terror and two serious incidents in London - they foreshadowed a political climate in which civil liberties are slowly being sacrificed.

We now know that, despite repeated denials, our Government was complicit in rendition, or - to put it in plain terms - the transfer of suspects out of civilised jurisdiction to a place where they could be held without charge for a lengthy period.

Although the intention was presumably to garner information, such action is hardly in the spirit of the nation that gave the world Magna Carta, or the Parliament that gave it habeas corpus.

I don't believe that sacrifice of due process can be justified. If we are seen to defend our own values in a manner that does violence to them, then we run the risk of losing those values. Even worse, if our own standards fall, it will serve to recruit terrorists more effectively than their own propaganda could ever hope to.

That is no longer theoretical: we now have home-grown terrorists - born in Britain, not in Waziristan. Will they be encouraged or discouraged to rally to militancy if we bypass the sober rituals of law with which we are familiar?

The Government has introduced measures to protect against terrorism. These go beyond anything contemplated when Britain faced far more regular - and no less violent - assaults from the IRA. The justification of these has sometimes come close to scaremongering.

After terrorist attacks on London, Parliament doubled the time that suspects could be held without charge from 14 days to 28 days. Probably, that was justified. But soon Parliament will be asked to increase detention without charge to 42 days. To appease opposition, the Government is cobbling together face-saving compromises. If the measure is passed, it will be a pyrrhic victory that owes more to political survival than principle. Even so, it is hard to justify: pre-charge detention in Canada is 24 hours; South Africa, Germany, New Zealand and America 48 hours; Russia 5 days; and Turkey 7½ days.

There is no proof that an extended period of 42 days would have prevented past atrocities. There is no evidence it will prevent future atrocities. No example has yet been given of why the police need more than 28 days to frame a charge. This is a slippery slope. Assertions that it “might be useful” simply will not do. If we are to curtail the liberty of the individual, we must have more certainty than that.

But it is not only the case for 42 days detention that is bogus. So is the case for identity cards. They were to be voluntary. Now it is clear that they will be compulsory. Yet the Government has admitted that such cards would not have stopped the London bombers. Nor will they cut illegal immigration, since asylum-seekers have been obliged to carry ID cards for nearly eight years. Nor will they have any real impact on benefits fraud, as this is typically caused by misrepresentation of financial resources rather than by identity.

The Government has been saying, in a catchy, misleading piece of spin: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” This is a demagogue's trick. We do have something to fear - the total loss of privacy to an intrusive state with authoritarian tendencies.

This is not a United Kingdom that I recognise and Parliament should not accept it.

Nor do I believe that anyone can defend another government innovation: a national identity register containing the DNA of tens of thousands of people who have never been charged with an offence. Under present legislation, DNA can be retained permanently for even minor misdemeanours, such as being drunk. A total of more than four million samples are already on the UK database - far more than in any other country. This includes tens of thousands of children, and a disproportionate number of black men. If this is accepted, it will one day go farther. This cannot be right: for me, it is all uncomfortably authoritarian.

So is a society in which the right to personal privacy is downgraded. These days a police superintendent can authorise bugging in public places. A chief constable can authorise bugging our homes or cars.

The Home Secretary can approve telephone tapping and the interception of our letters and e-mails. All of this is legal under an Act passed by the Labour Government. None of this requires - as it should - the sanction of a High Court Judge. Francis Pym once spoke of the democratic deficit of any government having too large a majority. He was right. In a Parliament with a more balanced representation, the undermining of personal privacy, lengthy detention before charge, identity cards and a DNA register would have never been passed.

I understand - and sympathise with - the complex dilemmas of security and crime that face the Government. But, while I understand their motives, their remedies are too stringent and not wise.

No one can rule out the possibility of another atrocity - but a free and open society is worth a certain amount of risk. A siege society is alien to our core instincts and - once in place - will be difficult to dismantle. It is a road down which we should not go.

Sir John Major was Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997. In 1991 the IRA tried to bomb him and his Cabinet as it met in Downing Street.

    42-day detention: the threat to our liberty, Ts, 6.6.2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article4075503.ece






4.45pm BST update

Islamist activist sentenced

to four and a half years


Friday April 18 2008
Roxanne Escobales and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Friday April 18 2008.
It was last updated at 16:57 on April 18 2008.


A judge today sentenced an Islamist activist to four and a half years in prison for terrorism offences, describing him as "arrogant, contemptuous and utterly devoid of remorse".

Judge Nicholas Price questioned Abu Izzadeen's religious motivations, saying: "I am left in no doubt that your speeches were used by you as self-aggrandisement and not as an expression of sincerely held religious views."

Izzadeen – born Trevor Brooks to Jamaican parents in London – was yesterday found guilty of fundraising for terrorists and inciting terrorism overseas.

He had first come to national attention when he heckled the then home secretary, John Reid, at a meeting in Leyton, east London, accusing him of being a "tyrant" and demanding to know why he had come to "a Muslim area".

The convictions of the 32-year-old and five other men stemmed from their inflammatory speeches and preaching at the Regents Park mosque, in London, on November 9 2004.

At the time, US-led forces in Iraq were engaged in a battle for Falluja.

Izzadeen and Simon Keeler were found guilty of inciting terrorist acts and fundraising for the purpose of terrorism. Keeler was also sentenced to four and a half years.

The four other men were convicted of either one or the other offence.

Abdul Saleem was jailed for three years and nine months, and Ibrahim Hassan was sentenced to two years and nine months after both were found guilty of inciting terrorism.

Abdul Mahid was found guilty of fundraising for terrorists, and was sentenced to two years.

He will serve this sentence once he has completed a current jail term for soliciting murder during protests against the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.

Shah Jilal Hussain, who fled while the jury was deliberating but handed himself in at court today, was sentenced to two years for his part in the fundraising charge.

During sentencing, Price told the defendants there must be room in a democracy for views that "shock, offend or disturb the state".

However, he said the men had "abused" that right and had committed criminal acts.

He said Keeler and Izzadeen - who stood trial under the name of Omar Brooks - were "leading lights" in the enterprise.

    Islamist activist sentenced to four and a half years, G, 18.4.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/apr/18/uksecurity1






4.45pm BST

Muslim activist found guilty

of supporting terrorism


Thursday April 17 2008
Angela Balakrishnan and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Thursday April 17 2008.
It was last updated at 17:13 on April 17 2008.


A high-profile Muslim activist was today found guilty at Kingston crown court of fundraising for terrorists and inciting terrorism overseas.

Abu Izzadeen was found guilty of supporting terrorism along with five other defendants.

Long before the trial began, Izzadeen had been in the public eye. In 2006 he heckled John Reid during a speech at a community meeting in east London in which the former home secretary had been asking British Muslims to help tackle Islamist extremism.

Izzadeen called Reid a "tyrant".

During the trial, the jury heard how Izzadeen told young Muslims that it was their duty to fight British soliders in Iraq.

The jury decided that he had crossed the line from freedom of expression and was encouraging terrorism.

Izzadeen and the five other men were charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 after they were arrested last year.

The charges he faced at Kingston crown court related to events in 2004 while US forces were locked in a fierce battle for the city of Falluja in Iraq. The city was being used as a base for al-Qaida terrorists and Sunni rebel forces but the American onslaught, coming as it did during the month of Ramadan, attracted fierce criticism.

Izzadeen and the other defendants attended Regent's Park mosque in north London where they made direct appeals for money and volunteers to join the insurgency in Iraq.

The court heard that their preaching quickly went much further than mere protest.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said: "What occurred was that these … men delivered or contributed to a series of speeches and appeals for money, and in the case of five of the defendants, for volunteers to join in the fight against coalition troops.

"The speeches became progressively more emotive and inflammatory and insulting in their tone."

The content of their speeches was not fully known until last year when police conducted a series of raids following the demonstrations outside the Danish embassy in London over the controversial Muslim cartoons.

In the speeches, Izzadeen had said that the jihad was not restricted to Osama Bin Laden alone but the responsibility of all Muslims.

During his trial he argued that that his only weapon was his tongue and that it was his duty to speak out against the oppression of Muslims.

The militant, born Omar Brooks, was also notorious for his hard-line views. The 32-year-old converted to Islam at the age of 17.

The other men arrested included Shal Jalal Hussain, also known as Abu Muwahid, 24, Simon Keeler, 35, Ibrahim Abdullah Hassan, 21, all of east London, Omar Zaheer, 27, of Southall, west London, and Rajib Khan, 28.

Izzadeen has also been investigated for controversial comments about the July 7 suicide attacks. He described the attacks as "mujahideen activity" which would make people "wake up and smell the coffee". He has also said he has "no allegiance" to the Queen or British society.

Izzadeen was born in Hackney, east London, the son of Jamaican parents who arrived in this country in the early 1960s. He has three children between the ages of two and nine.

    Muslim activist found guilty of supporting terrorism, G, 17.4.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/apr/17/uksecurity1






5.30pm BST update

Bomb plot targeted

seven Heathrow flights,

court told


Thursday April 3 2008
Haroon Siddique and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Thursday April 03 2008.
It was last updated at 17:29 on April 03 2008.


Seven transatlantic flights carrying hundreds of passengers would have been "entirely at the mercy of suicide bombers" if a plot to blow the planes up had succeeded, a court was told today.

Peter Wright QC said eight men on trial at Woolwich crown court intended to smuggle a "deadly cargo" of homemade liquid explosives aboard the aircraft, detonating them to kill an "unwitting civilian population".

The prosecutor told how two of the defendants were watched by police as they met in Walthamstow, north-east London, on August 9 2006.

He told jurors they might conclude from the evidence that the accused were "almost ready to put their plot into practice" at the time of their arrest.

"The disaster they contemplated was not long off," Wright said.

"They were prepared to board an aircraft with the necessary ingredients and equipment to construct and detonate a device that would bring about not only the loss of their own lives, but also all of those who happened by chance to be taking the same journey."

Abdulla Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar "shared a common interest", he told the court.

"It was an interest in which they were actively engaged at the time in other areas, an interest that involved inflicting heavy casualties on an unwitting civilian population, all in the name of Islam," he added.

"Unfortunately for these men, but to the considerable good fortune of those that were their intended targets of those devices, their activities had come to the attention of the police."

He described Ali, Sarwar and Mohammed Gulzar as the main men behind the plot.

A computer memory stick recovered from Ali contained details of "flight timetables, baggage information, security advice in respect of restricted items and other information about Heathrow airport", the court heard.

Although Ali claimed the information related to holiday destinations, Wright said: "Those interested in the fruits of this research appeared merely interested in a one-way flight."

Seven flights on commercial airliners, each with a passenger capacity of between 285 and 241 people, had been highlighted on the memory stick, the court was told.

"If each of these aircraft was successfully blown up, the potential for loss of life was indeed considerable," Wright said.

The flights allegedly targeted included aircraft bound for Montreal and Toronto in Canada, and the US cities of San Francisco, Washington, Chicago and New York.

All departed daily from Heathrow's Terminal 3 between 2.15pm and 4.50pm.

The fact that the planes all left at similar times meant they would be "entirely at the mercy of the suicide bombers who happened to be on board with their explosive devices", Wright said.

The court was told that hydrogen peroxide would be the main ingredient used to bring the planes down.

Although hydrogen peroxide is legal, it would have been combined with organic materials to create an explosive mixture.

Wright said the conspirators planned to use a syringe to insert the explosive liquid into the base of 500ml bottles of Oasis and Lucozade in order to smuggle it on board the aircraft.

They would then top the bottles with a soft drink called Tang.

The mixture would be detonated by another substance concealed within batteries, jurors were told.

Wright claimed that entries in Ali's diaries "amount to a blueprint" for certain aspects of the plot. On one page, he wrote: "Decide on which battery to use for D, small is best."

In a separate entry, he wrote: "Select date, five days before jet. All link up. Dirty mag to distract, condom. One drink use, other keep in pocket, maybe will not get through. Plus keys and chewing gum on the D in the electronic device."

Wright said Ali had "chosen to lie" when asked by police about the diary entries, claiming he could not remember their significance.

The men deny conspiring to murder between January 1 and August 11 2006 and conspiring to commit an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft between the same dates.

The accused are Ali, aka Ahmed Ali Khan, 27, of Walthamstow; Sarwar, 27, of High Wycombe; Tanvir Hussain, 27, of no fixed address; Gulzar, 26, of Barking, east London; Ibrahim Savant, 27, of Walthamstow; Arafat Waheed Khan, 26, of Walthamstow; Waheed Zaman, 23, also of Walthamstow; and Umar Islam, aka Brian Young, 29, of High Wycombe.

The trial is expected to last up to eight months.




The seven flights allegedly targeted:

1415 United Airlines Flight 931 to San Francisco

1500 Air Canada Flight 849 to Toronto

1515 Air Canada Flight 865 to Montreal

1540 United Airlines Flight 959 to Chicago

1620 United Airlines Flight 925 to Washington

1635 American Airlines Flight 139 to New York

1650 American Airlines Flight 91 to Chicago

        Bomb plot targeted seven Heathrow flights, court told, G, 3.4.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/apr/03/plane.plot






Watchdog's threat to 42-day terror law


Monday March 31 2008
The Guardian
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
This article appeared in the Guardian on Monday March 31 2008 on p1 of the Top stories section.
It was last updated at 02:35 on March 31 2008.


The government's own human rights watchdog threatened last night to launch a legal challenge to Labour's plan to introduce a law that would let police detain terror suspects without charge for 42 days.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission says the key part of the counter-terrorism bill goes against human rights law and may breach the Race Relations Act.

As the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, renewed her appeal to Labour backbenchers to support the measure - amid growing international criticism - the EHRC prepared to brief MPs before the bill's second reading in the Commons tomorrow. The commission makes clear it will mount a legal challenge if the 42-day limit wins parliamentary backing.

"If adopted, we may seek to use our legal powers to challenge the lawfulness of the provisions and to establish clear legal principles on the use of pre-trial detention," it says in a briefing note to MPs.

The threat of a legal challenge from the EHRC, which has powers to take judicial review on legislation it considers may be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, is another setback to a government determined to increase the time terrorism suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky and the American Civil Liberties Union have led an international outcry against the plan, which is opposed at home by the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

The government receives a further blow today when Lord Dear, the former chief inspector of constabulary, says a change in law would be a "propaganda coup" for al-Qaida. In a Guardian article, Dear writes that every chief constable he has spoken to regards the change as unnecessary.

Dear writes: "Make no mistake, extending pre-charge detention would most certainly be a propaganda coup for al-Qaida and its ilk. When I was an undergraduate reading law at university in the 60s, every self-respecting student had a poster of Che Guevara on their wall and knew something of the writings of [Herbert] Marcuse. Both of those terrorist luminaries said repeatedly that the best course for a terrorist was to provoke a government to overreact to a threat by eroding civil liberties, increasing executive powers and diminishing due process by the denial of justice."

The deep unease about the new measures was underlined by the EHRC. Set up last October under the chairman Trevor Phillips, it has specific power to take legal action over potential breaches of the Race Relations Act. The commission says it accepts that circumstances might arise which make an increase in the 28 day limit on pre-charge detention helpful to the police in obtaining evidence but this should not be at the expense of fundamental human rights.

It has told the Home Office that a "positive and compelling case" must be made before the maximum limit on pre-charge detention is raised, given its potential impact on liberty, the likelihood of its disproportionate impact on the Muslim community, and the risk of operational error.

"We consider that despite being restricted to particular and specific contingencies, the provisions set out by the Home Office are unlikely to meet threshold tests of public interest, justification or fairness," the commission adds.

It says the proposed safeguard of parliamentary scrutiny of each order will be meaningless without giving MPs detailed information on each suspect. Yet that would raise constitutional issues.

The commission says the proposed change also raises "very difficult issues" under race equality laws as it is being established to deal with a particular religious and racial minority. The EHRC believes it carries a high risk of damaging community relations, as Muslims are more likely to be regarded with suspicion.

The government is expected to win a Commons majority tomorrow for the bill's second reading. But Smith faces the prospect of defeat when detailed votes are held on the 42 days issue at the report stage in May after the local elections.

She said yesterday she believed the 42-day extension would be passed. But she told the BBC: "I hope parliamentarians will take their responsibility seriously to give those that we task with keeping us safe from terrorism the tools that we need to do it. I need to make the argument to parliament. As home secretary my responsibility is to do what I believe ... it is necessary to protect this country from the serious, sustained, and in some ways growing threat from international terrorism."

Smith stressed that the government was only taking a precautionary "reserve power" to increase the maximum period for detention without charge to be used in the exceptional circumstances of the country facing multiple terror plots.

    Watchdog's threat to 42-day terror law, G, 31.3.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/mar/31/terrorism.uksecurity






5pm GMT update

'Osama bin London' jailed


Friday March 7 2008
Peter Walker and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Friday March 07 2008.
It was last updated at 17:07 on March 07 2008.


A terrorist instructor who called himself Osama bin London and set up al-Qaida-style training camps in the New Forest was today jailed indefinitely, with a minimum term of seven and a half years.

Mohammed Hamid, 50, from east London, was sentenced at Woolwich crown court after being convicted last week of soliciting to murder, as well as organising terrorist training.

The group's self-appointed amir – meaning spiritual leader – Atilla Ahmet, 43, was jailed for six years and 11 months after admitting three counts of soliciting murder.
Five of the men's followers were jailed last week for between three years five months and four years 11 months.

A jury heard how Hamid hoped to send his recruits on to further training in Afghanistan or east Africa.

Hamid, who had several of the July 21 failed bombers, including ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim, among his followers, boasted that the July 7 attacks on London were "not even breakfast for me", the court heard.

Sentencing Hamid to the indefinite term, the trial judge, Mr Justice Pitchers, told Hamid he would continue to be a danger to the public because of his ability to persuade others to commit terrorism.

The judge told Hamid he had "used [his] charm and knowledge of the Qu'ran to influence others to terrorism.

"You can be quite genuinely amusing and charming. We heard it on tapes and saw it to some extent in this court. You also have real knowledge of the Qu'ran and Islamic teaching.

"However, that is only one side of you. The other side we heard on the recording that has become so well-known [is] when you spoke of the 52 dead on 7/7 being 'breakfast for you'."

While Hamid was prone to exaggeration, the judge said, he did appear to have sent trainees to Afghanistan as claimed.

By contrast to Hamid, Ahmet had very little knowledge of the Qu'ran, the judge said. He had a love of publicity that would be "laughable" if the views he expressed were not so unpleasant.

Hamid organised camping and paintballing expeditions at sites in the Lake District, the New Forest, Berkshire, Kent and East Sussex, as well as discussing terrorism with his followers at his home.

He was convicted in part from evidence taken after MI5 planted a bug at his residence in late 2005. Later a police agent infiltrated the group.

Kibley da Costa, 25, Mohammed al-Figari, 45, and Kader Ahmed, 20, were found guilty of attending terror camps in the New Forest and at a Berkshire paintballing centre. Two other members of the gang, Mohammed Kyriacou, 19, and Yassin Mutegombwa, 23, admitted attending terrorist training camps.

The jury heard that several of the July 21 failed bombers, including the ringleader, Muktar Said Ibrahim, were among Hamid's followers.

    'Osama bin London' jailed, G, 7.3.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/07/uksecurity.ukcrime






Algerian cleared of training pilots

for September 11 told he can sue


Friday, 15 February 2008
The Independent
By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor


Lotfi Raissi, 33, an Algerian pilot living in London, was arrested at his home in a raid authorised under the Terrorism Act, 10 days after the 9/11 attacks. Accused of being the "chief instructor" to the terrorists, Mr Raissi found himself at the centre of one of the biggest terror investigations in recent years. He was released after seven days but rearrested under an extradition warrant issued at the request of the US government.

Mr Raissi was told that if he was found guilty he could face the death penalty in America.

For nearly five months he was held in Belmarsh prison and only granted bail after overcoming objections from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which was representing the US. Mr Raissi was released after no evidence was put before a court to support the allegations. Lord Justice Hooper, giving yesterday's judgment, said: "The public labelling of the appellant as a terrorist by the authorities in this country, and particularly by the CPS, over a period of many months has had and continues to have, so it is said, a devastating effect on his life and on his health.

"He considers that, unless he receives a public acknowledgement that he is not a terrorist, he will be unable to get his life back together again."

The appeal judges also singled out the police and the CPS for criticism over the handling of the case. "In conclusion we consider that there is a considerable body of evidence to suggest that the police and the CPS were responsible for serious defaults," said the court.

Speaking after the judgment, Mr Raissi said he had suffered a miscarriage of justice, and had now been "completely exonerated". He added: "I always had faith in British justice. Surely I can expect to hear from the Home Secretary with the long-awaited apology very soon."

He said his wrongful arrest had left him blacklisted as a pilot and unable to work. "They destroyed my life, they destroyed my career. For this I will never forgive them," he said.

Lord Justice Hooper said: "We have allowed his appeal, ordering that the application for compensation be referred back to the Home Secretary for reconsideration." A Home Office spokesman said they are considering the implications and whether or not to appeal the decision.

In a statement, the CPS said: "We will be studying the issues raised which affect us. The judgment reaches no firm conclusions regarding the CPS and we were not formally involved in the proceedings."




Raissi's fight to clear his name

21 September 2001

Lotfi Raissi is arrested in a 3am raid on his flat close to Heathrow airport after an extradition request from the FBI.

28 September 2001

Released and then rearrested under an US extradition warrant. He is held in Belmarsh prison, south London, for four and a half months.

February 2002

Released on bail despite objection raised by the CPS.

24 April 2002

British judge dismisses case against him, saying there had never been any evidence to support the extradition.

June 2004

Makes an unsuccessful claim for compensation against the Home Secretary.

February 2006

Wins right to judicial review.

February 2007

Two High Court judges turn down his challenge.

February 2008

Court of Appeal exonerates him and says the Home Office should reconsider its decision not to compensate him.

    Algerian cleared of training pilots for September 11 told he can sue, I, 15.2.2008, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/algerian-cleared-of-training-pilots-for-september-11-told-he-can-sue-782552.html






Terror law in tatters as extremists go free


February 14, 2008
From The Times
Sean O’Neill, Crime and Security Editor


Dozens of anti-terrorist investigations and prosecutions are in jeopardy after senior judges yesterday quashed the convictions of five young Muslims for downloading extremist propaganda. Three Court of Appeal judges, led by the Lord Chief Justice, questioned whether they should ever have been prosecuted for merely possessing the material. The ruling means that in future the prosecution will have to prove that defendants intended to commit terrorist attacks.

The men, four university students and a schoolboy, who ran away from home saying that he wanted to die fighting jihad, are the first people to have convictions for Islamist terrorism overturned since the War on Terror began in 2001. The judges ordered that Irfan Raja, 20, Awaab Iqbal, 20, Aitzaz Zafar, 21, Usman Malik, 22, and Akbar Butt, 21 – who were in the dock to hear the judgment – be freed immediately. Three hours after the judgment was handed down, the five men walked out the front door of the court.

Mr Butt said: “Whatever happened has happened and I’m just happy to be out now. I won my freedom back.”

The judges’ ruling dealt a severe blow to the body of anti-terrorism legislation in Britain by rewriting two key sections of the Terrorism Act 2000. Sections 57 and 58 – which outlawed the possession of items likely to be of use or connected to terrorism – have been used by police and prosecutors to spearhead the fight against the radicalisation and recruitment of young Muslims.

The police regard the sections as a means of intervening early to prevent potential recruits going over seas to wage jihad or to receive terror training.

Continuing investigations will be urgently reviewed, cases awaiting trial under the legislation may have to be abandoned and a number of people convicted of terror offences, including Samina Malik, the so-called Lyrical Terrorist, are expected to lodge appeals.

Detectives said that the five men freed had large collections of extremist material and were planning to travel to Afghanistan to wage jihad.

Mr Raja left a farewell note for his parents and said that he would see them in Paradise. The trial judge said that the men had become “intoxicated” by extremism.

But human rights lawyers and Muslim community leaders claimed that no evidence of a terrorist plot had been uncovered. They argued that the Terrorism Act 2000 had been used to criminalise young people simply for harbouring radical thoughts.

The appeal court described the terror legislation as imprecise and uncertain and said that it allowed police to define terrorist offences far too widely.

The judges ordered that, in future cases, the Crown would have to prove that defendants clearly intended to engage in terrorism or that the items they possessed were of practical use to a terrorist.

They said the intention of the legislation had been to criminalise possession of items that might be used in making a bomb. The appellants, however, had only possessed literature.

The judgment said: “Literature may be stored in a book or on a bookshelf, or on a computer drive, without any intention on the part of the possessor to make any future use of it at all.”

The Crown Prosecution Service said that it was studying the judgment and considering an appeal to the House of Lords.

    Terror law in tatters as extremists go free, G, 14.2.2008, http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3365890.ece






7.15pm GMT update

Five freed

after terror convictions quashed


Wednesday February 13 2008
Vikram Dodd, Crime correspondent
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Wednesday February 13 2008.
It was last updated at 19:26 on February 13 2008.


Five young Muslim men today had their terrorism convictions quashed after judges concluded that reading Islamist material was not illegal unless there was "direct" proof it was to be used to inspire violent extremism.

The men had been jailed in July 2006 with the trial judge saying they had been "intoxicated" by extremism after Islamist ideological CDs and computer downloads were found in their possession. The prosecution at their trial claimed the men were preparing to train in Pakistan before fighting in Afghanistan.

They were prosecuted under Section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which makes it an offence to have books or items useful for a terrorist.

Striking down the convictions, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips said: "[Section 57] must be interpreted in a way that requires a direct connection between the object possessed and the act of terrorism."

Directions given to the jury by the trial judge were deficient and did not tell them "that they had to be satisfied that each appellant intended to use the relevant articles to incite his fellow planners to fight in Afghanistan".

The court of appeal ruled that the "basis upon which the appellants were convicted is shown to have been unsound" and that the prosecution had not proved its case. Defence lawyers said later that the effect of the court ruling was that it was permissible to download such material so long as there was no intention to use it.

The CPS had tried to use Section 57 against other young people for downloading similar information, but would now be severely restricted unless it could prove unlawful intent, the lawyers said. It is the first time the court of appeal has quashed guilty verdicts passed by a jury since the "war on terror" began in 2001.

The court of appeal said the prosecution's case was so weak, it should not even have gone before a jury. Part of the prosecution's case involved emails and instant messaging taken from the defendants' computers that talked about fighting abroad.

The judgment says: "While they lent support to the prosecution case that the appellants had formed a plan to go to Pakistan to train and then to Afghanistan to fight, there was nothing that evidenced expressly the use, or intention to use, the extremist literature to incite each other to do this. We think it doubtful whether there was a case of infringement of Section 57 … that could properly have been left to a jury."

One of those cleared, Usman Malik, told the Guardian that his life since his arrest had been "worse than a nightmare" and he denied wanting to be a terrorist or supporting violence. Four of the men were Bradford University students who were arrested after schoolboy Mohammed Irfan Raja ran away from home in February 2006.

He left a note for his parents saying he was going to fight abroad and they would meet again in heaven, the Old Bailey heard.

Raja, now 20, of Ilford, east London, and students Awaab Iqbal, 20, of Grove Terrace, Bradford; Aitzaz Zafar, 21, of Bishop Street, Rochdale, Lancashire; Usman Ahmed Malik, 22, of Laisteridge Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire; and Akbar Butt, 21, of Southall, west London, faced charges for having extreme material on their computers.

They were given up to three years in prison and when sentencing, the Recorder of London Judge Peter Beaumont said they were preparing to train in Pakistan and then fight in Afghanistan against its allies, which included British soldiers.

All denied having articles for terrorism and said the material, downloaded from various websites, was not intended to encourage terrorism or martyrdom. They denied having extremist views and some said they were researching ideology, including visiting websites about violent jihad.

Malik's solicitor, Saghir Hussein, said: "The judgment means there must be a direct connection between possession [of material] and acts of terrorism. A book about how to make bombs would come under Section 57, not a book that contains ideological material. It's just like reading Mein Kampf does not make you a Nazi."

Imran Khan, solicitor for Zafar, said that young Muslims seeking to explore the world of their religion should no longer be victimised: "My client is over the moon. He says it is surreal and he cannot see why he has spent the last two years in prison for looking at material which he had no intention of using for terrorism. "Young people should not be frightened of exploring their world."

Usman Malik, speaking through his lawyer, said: "The last 18 months have been worse than a nightmare. I was away from home for the first time when I was arrested and accused of being a terrorist. No one would listen to my claims of innocence."

Mailk was on an access course that could lead to studying for a pharmacy degree at Bradford University when he was arrested. He said: "I was never a terrorist and have never supported violence.

"This has been very upsetting for me and my whole family. I was wrongly convicted and accused. No one should have to go through this, who is innocent."

The CPS is considering an appeal to the House of Lords.

    Five freed after terror convictions quashed, G, 13.2.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/feb/13/uksecurity






6.45pm GMT update

UK orders Hamza's extradition to US


Thursday February 7, 2008
Guardian Unlimited
Vikram Dodd, crime correspondent and Fred Attewill

The home secretary has signed the order for Abu Hamza to be extradited to the US to face terrorism charges.
Hamza will be extradited within 28 days unless his lawyers appeal against the decision.

Westminster magistrates court in London ruled last November that there was no bar to Hamza's extradition.

Hamza was jailed for seven years in February 2006 for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

The US alleges Hamza was in contact with high-ranking Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists and aided the hostage-taking of 16 western tourists in Yemen in December 1998 that ended in the deaths of three Britons and an Australian.

He is charged with attempting to set up a training camp for "violent jihad" in Oregon in 1999, and sending one of his followers to an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.

Hamza's legal team claimed during his extradition hearing that a US prison could endanger his health and give the cleric almost no access to his large family, which could be barred from the country.

But senior district judge Timothy Workman ruled that the gravity of the allegations and the public interest of honouring the extradition treaty "outweighed the inevitable interference with Hamza's family life".

After the ruling, Alun Jones QC, defending, immediately announced he would be making submissions to the Home Office. He said he would write to the attorney general urging the most serious offences be prosecuted in the UK on the basis that three UK citizens were killed in the hostage-taking incident, while no American citizens were killed.

But the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, signed the extradition order this afternoon. Hamza has 14 days to appeal.

Defence lawyers fear he could face detention in a notorious US "supermax" jail, without any contact with human beings. The US has assured the UK that Hamza would not face the death penalty or be sent to Guantánamo Bay or other secret prisons where torture is allegedly used.

The US state department said in November it wanted to put Hamza on trial in New York. The ailing 49-year-old cleric could still face a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.

Hamza once ran the Finsbury Park mosque in London, which police claim he turned into a haven for terrorists.

Hamza was jailed at the Old Bailey on six charges of incitement to murder and lesser charges of threatening behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred and of possessing a document, the Encyclopaedia of Afghan Jihad, which was "useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". A source close to Hamza told the Guardian the cleric was an "unwitting informant" for MI5, providing information on jihadists whose views he considered more extreme than his own.

Hamza said in court that during his many meetings with the security services and anti-terrorism officers he believed a deal operated, whereby his activities would be tolerated as long as they had targets abroad.

    UK orders Hamza's extradition to US, G, 7.2.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,2254276,00.html






Al-Qaeda threatens

wave of British attacks


January 30, 2008
From Times Online
Sean O'Neill, Crime and Security Editor


Al-Qaeda has threatened a wave of suicide bombings in Britain unless all troops are withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan and Islamist prisoners are freed from Belmarsh jail by the end of March.

The statement, which also includes specific assassination threats against Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, appeared earlier this week on al-ekhlaas.net, a recognised jihadi website.

It was posted in English under the banner of "Al Qaeda in Britain" but remained on the site for only a brief period.

Earlier this month the website, which is monitored by intelligence services around the world, announced the formation of al-Qaeda in Britain under the leadership of someone calling himself Sheikh Umar Rabie al-Khalaila.

The same individual signed the second statement, which appeared on January 24 and began with the demand for the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The message continued by insisting on the release of "all Muslim captives" from Belmarsh high-security prison in south-east London. It named the radical clerics Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza al-Masri as prisoners who should be released immediately.

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian cleric who is fighting deportation to Jordan, is in the prison estate but is not held at Belmarsh.

Abu Hamza, the hook handed former imam of Finsbury Park mosque who is awaiting extradition to the United States, is a key figure among the terrorist prisoners at Belmarsh.

The al-Qaeda statement added: "If the British government fails to respond to our demands within the last day of March 2008. . . then the martyrdom seekers of the Organisation of Al-Qaeda in Britain will target all the political leaders, especially Tony Blair and Gordan (sic) Brown."

The list of targets would also include "all embassies, crusader centres and their interests throughout the country".

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi internet activity, said it was not possible to verify the authenticity of the statement. But it noted that it had been posted on an open section of the website and not one of the more secure closed forums normally used by al-Qaeda affiliates.

Reporting on the posting, the respected Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC, said: "British security officials had difficulty assessing the seriousness of the threat, which appeared only briefly on al-ekhlaas, but comes at a time of heightened vigilance following warnings from Spanish police that Pakistani nationals intended to launch suicide attacks on the London transit system."

Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command is aware of the al-ekhlaas site but refused to say whether it was being monitored or whether the latest threat had any credibility.

A spokesman said: "We regularly monitor a range of websites and organisations. Any information we receive will be considered and appropriate action taken."

The current threat level in Britain is "severe" meaning, according to MI5, that there is "a high likelihood of future terrorist attacks" and "a continuing high level of threat to the UK".

    Al-Qaeda threatens wave of British attacks, Ts, 30.1.2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article3276715.ece






Man admits plot

to behead British Muslim soldier


Wednesday, 30 January 2008
The Independent
By Terri Judd


Parviz Khan then planned to broadcast footage of "the ghastly death" in an attempt to spread panic among the armed forces and the public.

Leicester Crown Court heard how the 37-year-old unemployed charity worker was at the centre of a Birmingham terrorist cell, sending equipment to fighters operating on the Afghan border. Allegedly, the equipment was disguised as medicine and clothes for earthquake victims.

Details of Khan's plans emerged yesterday as two other men accused of activities connected to the cell went on trial.

Khan, along with three other men, has already pleaded guilty to charges connected to the plot – and supplying equipment to terrorists – but the two others deny offences under the Terrorism Act. Amjad Mahmood, 32, of Birmingham, denies knowing about the plot to murder a soldier and failing to disclose it to the authorities between April 2006 and February 2007. Zahoor Iqbal, 30, also from Birmingham, denies possessing a document or record likely to be useful to a terrorist, namely a computer disc entitled "Encyclopedia Jihad".

The two men also deny helping to supply terrorists in Pakistan, engaging in conduct with the intention of assisting in the commission of acts of terrorism between April 2006 and February 2007.

Nigel Rumfitt QC, for the prosecution, told the court that Khan had pleaded guilty a fortnight ago. He had hoped, Mr Rumfitt said, to kidnap a soldier by ambushing him in Birmingham's Broad Street entertainment quarter, and was planning to enlist the help of drug dealers to capture the soldier.

"He would be taken to a lock-up garage and there he would be murdered by having his head cut off like a pig. This atrocity would be filmed ... and the film released to cause panic and fear within the British armed forces and the wider public," said Mr Rumfitt.

Meanwhile, Khan actively gathered equipment such as computer hard drives, walkie-talkies, range-finders and night vision equipment, to be sent to Pakistan for terrorists operating near the Afghan border. He would return from the country with "shopping lists".

"The prosecution say that Parviz Khan is a fanatic. He is a man who has the most violent and extreme views. He was enraged by the idea that there were Muslim soldiers in the British Army," explained Mr Rumfitt.

Khan had asked Basiru Gassama, 30, a Gambian national, to help identify a victim. He failed to come up with details of an individual target and did not report the plot to the authorities.

Gassama, from the Hodge Hill area of Birmingham, has pleaded guilty after failing to inform the authorities of the plan to kill a soldier. A bug placed in Khan's home in Alum Rock by security services recorded "highly incriminating and damaging comments", the court was told. On 6 November 2006, Mr Rumfitt said, Gassama visited Khan and was shown videos of beheadings in an attempt to persuade him to help the cell.

The prosecution alleged that another conversation included Khan discussing the plot with Amjad Mahmood. He was also recorded telling Zahoor Iqbal about a hi-tech video camera for filming operations and suicide bomber's wills. "What he is talking about is guerrillas in the border area on day and night operations to use as propaganda to inspire young Muslims around the world to join them," explained Mr Rumfitt.

The jury was told that two other men from Birmingham, Mohammed Irfan, 31, and Hamid Elasmar, 44, have also pleaded guilty to helping Khan supply the equipment.

All six men were arrested on 31 January 2006 in a series of coordinated police raids. During searches of their homes "disturbingly violent" Islamist material was found, the court was told. At Mr Iqbal's home in Perry Barr, they discovered electronic "books" on booby traps and grenades, US Army field manuals and a "mujahedin poison book".

In interview, Mr Mahmood exercised his right not to answer questions but issued a statement saying he did not agree with terrorist activity and had never been asked to support insurgents in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Mr Iqbal insisted that Khan had told him the black bags at his home were to be shipped out to Pakistan for charity. The trial continues.

    Man admits plot to behead British Muslim soldier, I, 30.1.2008, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/man-admits-plot-to-behead-british-muslim-soldier-775588.html






3.15pm GMT update

London man jailed

for preparing for terrorism


Tuesday January 8, 2008
Guardian Unlimited
Rosalind Ryan and agencies


A 29-year-old London man was today jailed for four-and-a-half years after becoming the first person to be convicted under the law covering those caught preparing for terrorism.

Sohail Qureshi pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to planning to fly to Pakistan with the intention of committing acts of terrorism.

Qureshi, a qualified dentist from Forest Gate, east London, was arrested at Heathrow airport in October 2006. He was carrying £9,000 in cash plus equipment and computer material for terrorist purposes.

The prosecutor, Jonathan Sharp, said Qureshi had planned to fly to Islamabad for a "two- to three-week operation" either in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Waziristan, a tribal region of Pakistan. "Sohail Qureshi is a dedicated supporter of Islamist extremism," he said.

The court heard that police found a message on an extremist website in which Qureshi wrote: "Pray that I kill many, brother. Revenge, revenge, revenge."

Qureshi was also in email contact with Samina Malik, the so-called "lyrical terrorist".

Malik, who wrote poems about martyrdom and beheading unbelievers, was given a suspended jail sentence last year after she was found guilty of storing a library of material for terrorism.

As Qureshi prepared to fly out to Islamabad, he sought information about security arrangements from Malik, a WHSmith employee who worked airside at Heathrow airport.

"Sis, I hope you get this email before anyone else. What is the system like at work? Is the checking still very harsh or have things calmed down a bit?" he asked.

Sharp said the email was part of the preparation he was making for his trip to Pakistan. He also posted a "farewell" letter, which he anonymously uploaded to an Islamist website, and attempted to wipe his computer contents, indicating, said Sharp, "uncertainty as to whether he would ever return".

Qureshi was arrested as he prepared to board a plane to Pakistan. He had a return ticket and had told friends he planned to be away for a few weeks visiting his family, who lived there. "His true purpose in making the trip, however, was to commit acts of terrorism or to assist others to do so," said Sharp.

He was arrested with £1,150 cash in his wallet together with £7,590 in six envelopes around his body.

He also had US Marine and Canadian forces manuals, a chapter from a book he had written called My Father the Bombmaker and a picture of himself holding an M16 rifle, stored on a CD.

There was also a night sight, two metal batons, two sleeping bags, two rucksacks, medical supplies and a computer hard drive.

The court heard that Qureshi was born in Pakistan and grew up in Saudi Arabia. He also lived in Russia for seven years and arrived in Britain in 2004 with no previous convictions.

In web messages, he indicated that he had been sent to Britain by al-Qaida for terrorist fundraising.

Qureshi pleaded guilty to preparing for terrorism under section five of the Terrorism Act 2006, the first time anyone has been convicted under this law. He also pleaded guilty to possessing an article for a terrorist purpose and possessing a record likely to be useful in terrorism.

London man jailed for preparing for terrorism, G, 8.1.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,2237229,00.html



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