Les anglonautes

About | Search | Grammar | Vocapedia | Learning | Docs | Stats | History | News podcasts - Videos | Arts | Science | Translate

 Previous Home Up Next


History > 2009 > UK > Terrorism (I)




Airline bomb plot leader

to serve minimum of 40 years in jail


September 14, 2009
From Times Online
Sean O’Neill, Crime and Security Editor


The leader of the terrorist plot to bomb seven transatlantic airliners out of the sky will be aged 65 before he can apply for release from jail in 2046, a judge ruled yesterday.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, stood with his head down reading from a prayer book as Mr Justice Henriques passed a life sentence with a minimum 40-year tariff at the end of an investigation and trial process lasting more than three years.

The judge told Ali that he had been convicted of “the most grave and wicked conspiracy ever proven within this jurisdiction” and will never be released if he remains a serious danger to the public.

The airline plot envisaged suicide bombers detonating liquid bombs disguised as soft drinks on board flights to American and Canadian cities.

Woolwich Crown Court, which was packed for the sentencing, heard the judge tell Ali: “The intention was to perpetrate a terrorist outrage to stand alongside the events of September 11 2001 in world history... You sought the attention of the world and you have it now.”

Two other members of Ali’s “inner circle”, who were convicted with him of the airline plot last week, were also jailed for life.

Assad Sarwar, 29, must serve at least 36 years and Tanvir Hussain, 28, will be in prison for a minimum of 32 years.

The judge said that the plot was at an advanced stage when it was foiled - target flights had been selected, martyrdom videos recorded and viable explosive devices were under construction.

He added: “Had this conspiracy not been interrupted, a massive loss of life would almost certainly have resulted - and if the detonation was over land, the number of victims would have been even greater still.”

Ali, from Walthamstow, east London, was the ringleader of the plot in Britain - engaged for eight months in training, planning and recruiting others for what he called “this blessed operation”.

He was the “producer, director, cameraman, part-author and actor” in the martyrdom videos recorded which were to be released to the media after the bombs had exploded and thousands of innocent people were dead.

The former mobile phone salesman was, the judge added, “highly intelligent and extremely able” but he had become “a driven and determined extremist with boundless energy to lead a terrorist outrage of massive proportion”.

However, the judge held back from imposing a whole-life sentence on Ali saying he had to distinguish between people who conspired to carry out mass murder and those who attempted or actually perpetrated it.

The sentence on Ali is identical to those imposed on the four men who tried to detonate rucksack bombs on Tube trains and a bus in London on July 21 2005.

The judge also took into account the fact that “ultimate control” of the terror plot lay not with Ali but with people in Pakistan.

E-mails produced in court after Crown lawyers bypassed the bar on intercept evidence, had been “vital” in establishing the role of terrorist bosses in Pakistan.

One message , sent from Pakistan on July 25 2006, said: “We need to get a move on because I have gone through all the hassle of getting the money. Can you please explain why it is taking so long?”

On August 6 - three days before his arrest - Ali emailed Pakistan: “I have done my prep. All I have to do now is sort out the opening timetable and bookings.”

Over the next two days he downloaded airline timetables and selected his seven target flights.

Sarwar, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, had been trained in bombmaking in Pakistan and was the cell’s chemist and quartermaster.

The judge said he was “a student of jihad and martyrdom” who had acquired enough hyrdogen peroxide to manufacture 20 bottle bombs.

But he imposed a lower sentence because, he said, Sarwar was neither the leader nor the recruiter and was less ruthless than Ali.

Hussain, from Leyton, east London, had become embroiled in the plot, the judge said, because of his longstanding loyalty to his childhood friend Ali. He played a key role although was not as central as Ali and Sarwar and was therefore entitled to a lesser sentence.

All three were told, however, that if they remained committed extremists they would not be eligible for parole.

Umar Islam, 31, a father of three children who was convicted of conspiracy to murder, was given a life-term with a minimum tariff of 22 years after he was convicted of conspiracy to murder. He was sentenced on the basis of the jury’s finding that he did not know the detail of the airline plot.

The Crown is seeking a retrial of three other defendants in the case - Waheed Zaman, Arafat Khan and Ibrahim Savant - after the jury failed to agree verdicts on them last week.

    Airline bomb plot leader to serve minimum of 40 years in jail, Ts, 14.9.2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6833885.ece






Mass murder at 30,000 feet: Islamic extremists guilty of airline bomb plot


September 7, 2009
From Times Online


Three men were found guilty today of conspiracy to murder thousands of passengers and crew in an unprecedented airline bomb plot that could have proved as deadly as the 9/11 attacks.

After a retrial at Woolwich Crown Court, jurors found the ringleader, Abdulla Ahmed, and two other men, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain, guilty of plotting to blow up airliners en route from Heathrow to the United States.

Another defendant, Umar Islam, was found guilty of a more general charge of conspiracy to murder because jurors could not decide whether he knew of the specific targets in the plot three years ago.

Three other men, Arafat Khan, Ibrahim Savant and Waheed Zaman, were found not guilty of conspiracy to blow up aircraft but could face a retrial on the more general conspiracy to murder charge because jurors could not reach a verdict.

The eighth defendant, Muslim convert Donald Stewart-Whyte, was found not guilty on all charges but had pleaded guilty to a firearms offence.

Ali, 28, was the leader of an East London terror cell inspired by al-Qaeda, the court heard. He had planned to detonate home-made liquid bombs in suicide attacks on transatlantic aircraft bound for major north American cities.

It was the most complex and daring British-based terrorist conspiracy in modern times and could have caused thousands of deaths in the air and on the ground.

Counter-terrorist police, the security services and prosecutors spent more than £35 million foiling the plot and bringing Ali to justice.

The arrest of the gang in August 2006 sparked tight restrictions on carrying liquids on to aircraft that led to travel chaos and which remain largely in place three years later, although detectives complained that their operation had been compromised by the fact that news of the plot had leaked out from Washington first.

The guilty verdict will come as an enormous relief for Government ministers who endured heavy criticism for introducing the draconian luggage restrictions.

It will also be seen as a vindication of the decision to retry Ali after he was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions last September. The previous jury at the South London court failed to reach verdicts on the specific airline plot.

British-born Ali, of Walthamstow, was inspired by the July 7 bombers and Osama bin Laden and considered taking his baby son on his suicide mission.

He planned to smuggle home-made bombs disguised as soft drinks on to passenger jets run by United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada.

The hydrogen peroxide devices would have been assembled and detonated in mid-air by a team of suicide bombers.

Ali singled out seven flights to San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Washington, New York and Chicago that departed within two-and-a-half hours of each other.

Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic would have been left powerless to stop the destruction once the first bomb exploded.

Police said the plot was drawn up in Pakistan with detailed instructions passed to Ali during frequent trips to its lawless border with Afghanistan.

They believe a mystery al-Qaeda bombmaker was responsible for the ingenious liquid bomb design, concealed within 500ml Oasis or Lucozade bottles.

Surveillance teams watched Ali on his return to Britain as he assembled his terror cell, gathered materials and identified targets.

Undercover officers looked on as the unemployed former shop worker used cash to purchase a £138,000 second-floor flat in Forest Road, Walthamstow.

They planted a secret bug that revealed it was converted into a bomb factory where Ali met others to construct the bombs.

The flat was also used as a location for Ali and others to record suicide videos threatening further attacks against the West.

In his video Ali warned the British public to expect "floods of martyr operations" that would leave body parts scattered in the streets.

Ali was watched as he used public phone boxes, mobile phones and anonymous e-mail accounts to keep in touch with mystery terrorist controllers in Pakistan.

On his arrest, he was found to be carrying an elaborate and damning blueprint for the plot scrawled in a battered pocket diary. Airport security arrangements and details of flights, including the seven highlighted services, were discovered on a computer memory stick in another pocket.

All the defendants except Mr Stewart-Whyte, a Muslim convert, admitted conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and will be sentenced next Monday.

The jury took a total of 54 hours and 11 minutes to reach their verdicts in the retrial.

Ali, wearing a dark blue sweater, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out, while Hussain nodded his head as the verdicts were read and shrugged his shoulders as he left the secure dock at the back of the court.

Mr Stewart-Whyte looked to the ground as he was cleared before smiling.

Judge Mr Justice Henriques thanked the jury for their service over the last six months of the trial and encouraged them to attend the sentencing hearing on Monday.




Charges in full


Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain

Guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions on aircraft, conspiracy to murder, conpsiracy to cause explosions and conspiracy to cause public nuisance.


Umar Islam

Guilty of conspiracy to murder; conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. Jury failed to reach a verdict on conspiracy to cause explosions on aircraft.


Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Khan, Waheed Zaman

Guilty of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. Not Guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions on aircraft. Jury failed to reach verdicts on conspiracy to murder.


Donald Stewart-Whyte

Not guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions on aircraft and conspiracy to murder. Admitted firearms and cannabis possession charge.

    Mass murder at 30,000 feet: Islamic extremists guilty of airline bomb plot, Ts, 7.9.2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6824884.ece






Torture – new claim of secret UK complicity

Papers suggest intelligence service knew men were being mistreated


Sunday 26 July 2009
Guardian.co.uk,  18.38 BST
Helen Carter
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 18.38 BST on Sunday 26 July 2009.
It appeared in the Guardian on Monday 27 July 2009 on p1 of the Top stories section.
It was last updated at 18.38 BST on Sunday 26 July 2009.


A businessman who was held and mistreated in the United Arab Emirates following the London bombings believes he has evidence that British consular officials asked permission from the UK's own security services to visit him while he was detained.

Heavily redacted documents seen by the Guardian appear to indicate that the request to visit Alam Ghafoor was made to an unidentified British intelligence officer and not to officials in the UAE.

Ghafoor is one of several British men who allege there has been British complicity in their detention and torture while abroad. The businessman, who is 38 and from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was detained and tortured while on a business trip to Dubai following the London bombings in July 2005.

Ghafoor and his business partner, Mohammed Rafiq Siddique, flew to the UAE on 4 July. They were dragged out of a restaurant as they dined on 21 July. The two British Muslims say they were threatened with torture, deprived of sleep, subjected to stress positions and told they would be killed and fed to dogs.

Ghafoor has obtained copies of correspondence from consular officials to the Foreign Office in London while he was in custody that show those officials were asking someone other than the UAE authorities for permission to see him. Who that person is, and who they represented, is unclear, as their name was censored before the copies were handed over. Some of the reports were so heavily redacted by the time Ghafoor received them that the only words not blanked are his name.

In one email, dated 25 July, 2005, a consular official wrote: "Today I phoned [name withheld] trying to get permission to see them. First [...] told me that there was no need because they would be deported soon. I asked if we could see them today or tomorrow. [...] told me that [...] would check with the UAE authorities... and would let me know. I didn't hear from [...] since then. Tomorrow I'll speak to [...] again."

Ghafoor, who was released without charge on 30 July, is convinced that the individual to which consular officials were turning for permission to see him was a British intelligence officer. At the time of his interrogation, Ghafoor was told that British security services had requested his questioning.

MI5 and MI6 officers who question terrorism suspects they know are being tortured, are acting in line with a secret government interrogation policy, drawn up after the 9/11 attacks. The policy states: "we cannot be party to such ill treatment nor can we be seen to condone it" and that "it is important that you do not engage in any activity yourself that involves inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners." It also advises intelligence officers that if detainees "are not within our custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene" to prevent torture.

According to Philippe Sands, QC, one of the world's leading experts in international human rights law, the policy almost certainly breaches international human rights.

When Ghafoor asked why he had been picked up, he was shown a photograph and told he resembled one of the 7/7 suicide bombers and must be related to him. His business partner, Siddique, who was also detained and tortured, says he was told he must have been involved in the bombings – not only did he share a name with the bombers – but he lived in Dewsbury, the same Yorkshire town.

Ghafoor said his interrogators questioned his sexuality, as he is not married, and insulted him because he was unable to wash, saying he smelled. He was also punched in the groin.

One interrogator said to him: "In the morning you will be thrown into a pit and the dogs will tear you to bits and I will watch it and enjoy it."

Eventually, he agreed to sign a false confession admitting he was a friend of the bombers and had organised the London attacks. "I wrote a false confession and put crazy things in it like 'I have constant contact with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden'," he said.

He was told he would be shot by a firing squad the following morning.

When Ghafoor returned home, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. His relationship with his partner broke down and he suffered nightmares, anxiety and paranoia.

Ghafoor is furious that there has been no explanation for his treatment, nor an apology. "I would like to know why I was put through this hell and I would like someone to be accountable."

Clive Stafford-Smith, the legal director of Reprieve, a not-for-profit human rights organisation, said: "It is impossible for the victims of torture to move on without truth and reconciliation, yet the British government seems intent on covering up what it has done."

He added: "Until recently, the British security services were told to effectively turn a blind eye to torture."

The Foreign Office said in a statement that Ghafoor and Siddique were not detained at Britain's request. "British consular staff visited them on July 30, 2005 to ensure their welfare needs were being addressed. Their detention was a matter for the Dubai authorities ... they were not detained at the request of the UK government. We do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment for any purpose.

"Wherever allegations of wrongdoing are made, they are taken seriously and investigated as appropriate."

    Torture – new claim of secret UK complicity, G, 26.7.2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/26/alam-ghafoor-torture-uk-intelligence






Former public schoolboy Isa Ibrahim convicted of planning 'carnage'


July 17, 2009
From Times Online

A former public schoolboy who converted to an extremist strand of Islam and built a viable suicide bomb vest was convicted today of planning “carnage” at a crowded shopping centre.

Andrew Ibrahim, 20, who changed his name to Isa in 2007 after his religious conversion, was arrested after members of the Muslim community in Bristol became concerned about his behaviour and contacted police.

Ibrahim, the son of a hospital consultant, was convicted of making an explosive with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the UK in April 2008.

He was also found guilty of a charge of preparing terrorist acts by purchasing material to make an explosive, making that explosive, buying material to detonate the explosive, carrying out “reconnaissance” before the act and “making an improvised suicide vest in which to then detonate an explosive substance”.

Ibrahim was given an indeterminate sentence at Winchester Crown Court and told that he should serve a minimum of 10 years.

Flanked by four prison officers, Ibrahim showed no emotion as the jury delivered its majority verdict.

His mother fled the court in tears as the sentence was passed.

Ibrahim's conviction, after a month-long trial, has been hailed as the first visible success for the Prevent element of the national counter-terrorism strategy which tries to enlist the help of British Muslims in the fight against radicalisation.

The alert was raised when an imam contacted a Special Branch officer, who was on a canal boat holiday at the time, and said that he was worried about the young convert’s demeanour and language. He also mentioned seeing burn marks on his hands.

Initially all police had was the first name “Isa” and the fact that he was a convert.

Detectives found Ibrahim — who was homeless for a period after becoming a heroin addict and estranged from his family — within 36 hours at the GP’s surgery where he collected his methadone prescription.

Officers were making inquiries of the staff when Ibrahim walked in and was promptly arrested.

After he was held, police discovered his flat on Comb Paddock, a cul-de-sac in the suburb of Westbury on Trym where he had been manufacturing explosives, wiring detonators and stitching a suicide vest.

A search of the flat in April 2008 revealed a quantity of the high explosive Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine (HMTD) in a biscuit tin in the fridge, a crude detonator circuit under the kitchen sink and the vest, with pockets to carry the explosives, hanging on the bedroom door.

Further inquiries revealed that Ibrahim had filmed a test-firing of his explosive mixture and stored the footage on his computer. CCTV footage from the Broadmead shopping centre showed him making a reconnaissance trip during which he made notes in his mobile phone. One piece of text read: “Food Court dense area”.

Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Hazell of Avon and Somerset police told The Times that without help from Bristol’s Muslim communities Ibrahim might not have been caught.

“Without that information I’m not sure we would have ever found him because he was operating alone,” said Mr Hazell.

“If he had done what he was planning we would have had carnage in the centre of Bristol.

“The community convinced me. If the community is uncomfortable, if they have a gut feeling, then I’ve got to go with that.”

The city has a diverse Muslim population — with communities originating in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Iraq, Algeria and Afghanistan — and 11 mosques or meeting houses. Representatives of a number of communities expressed concern about Ibrahim.

Mr Hazell said: “They didn’t like his view of Islam, particularly his praise for suicide bombers and were especially alarmed when he had a heated row with a visiting imam.

“The calls to us came in when he showed some people the injuries on his hands, including marks from shards of glass, which he said were caused when a bottle blew up when he was mixing chemicals”.

Mr Justice Butterfield told Ibrahim that, even though he had not made a detonation device or completed the suicide vest, “your preparation to inflict an atrocity on the innocent civilians of Bristol were advanced”.

“You are a dangerous young man, well capable of acting on the views you held in the spring of 2008.”

He added that he considered Ibrahim to be a “continuing danger” to the public but gave a substantial discount on the minimum term imposed due to the fact that he had acted alone and because of his age.

“You were, in my judgment, a lonely and angry young person at the time of these events, with a craving for attention,” said the judge.

Ibrahim was born Andrew Michael Philip, the younger of two sons of an Egyptian father and an English mother who, although separated, both attended sections of his trial.

Nassif Ibrahim, a Coptic Christian, is a consultant pathologist at Frenchay Hospital who, the court heard, collects antique pottery, stamps, coins and Nazi memorabilia. Ibrahim’s mother, Valerie, works as an administrator at Bristol University Medical School.

The would-be bomber was educated for a period as a boarder at Downside School, near Bath, where Auberon Waugh was a pupil. His elder brother Peter is an Oxford University graduate who is now studying to become a barrister.

But Ibrahim drifted into casual drug use at the age of 12 and by his late teens was a heavy user of heroin and crack cocaine. He told the jury that his mother had asked him to leave the family home after discovering his drug use. At the time of his arrest he was selling the Big Issue to help pay for a £60-per-day drug habit.

In court, Ibrahim denied making a bomb with intent to endanger life. He said that he was making explosives to occupy his time while he struggled to come off heroin.

David Spens, QC, for the defence, asked the jury if his client was “an Islamic extremist intent on carnage and mass murder in the heart of Bristol?” or “a weak, lonely figure living much of his life in a fantasy world” and “a prat”?

The jury’s verdict was that Ibrahim was a would-be terrorist.

Mr Hazell added: “This is the first time that Prevent has led to the thwarting of a suspected terrorist incident and shows the importance of building trust with communities.”

    Former public schoolboy Isa Ibrahim convicted of planning 'carnage', Ts, 17.7.2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6714836.ece






Al Qaeda Says It Executed Briton


June 4, 2009
The New York Times


LONDON — An Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa said on Wednesday that it had killed a Briton it abducted in Mali last January.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there was “strong reason to believe” that the captive had been executed. He called the killing “barbaric.”

The Briton, identified as Edwin Dyer, was taken hostage on January 22 along with a Swiss citizen and two other tourists in Niger, close to the border with Mali, but was held in Mali.

The group, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, had demanded the release of Abu Qatada, a Jordanian-born Palestinian cleric held in Britain whom a Spanish judge has called the leading Al Qaeda lieutenant in Europe. Britain has said he is a “significant international terrorist” but he has denied belonging to Al Qaeda.

On Wednesday, the group announced on an Islamist Web site that it killed the Briton on May 31, one day after the expiration of its second deadline for its demand to be met.

The password-protected Web site, called Al Falojah, carried a two-page message in Arabic saying the British authorities had been given time to negotiate Mr. Dyer’s release but had shown indifference to his fate.

“The British captive was killed so that he, and with him the British state, may taste a tiny portion of what innocent Muslims taste every day at the hands of the Crusader and Jewish coalition to the east and to the west of the world,” the statement said. It did not say how or where Mr. Dyer was killed.

In a statement, Prime Minister Brown said: “This tragedy reinforces our commitment to confront terrorism. It strengthens our determination never to concede to the demands of terrorists, nor to pay ransoms.”

“I want those who would use terror against British citizens to know beyond doubt that we and our allies will pursue them relentlessly, and that they will meet the justice they deserve.”

The BBC said Britain had refused to pay a ransom.

Britain is seeking to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, but a British judge has ruled that he would not face a fair trial there. Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Othman, has been convicted in Jordan of terrorism offenses in his absence and faces a life sentence.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two Canadian diplomats and four European tourists in the past five months. The two diplomats and two of the tourists were freed in Mali in April, Reuters reported.

Last month, Algerian media reported the group was demanding $14 million to release Mr. Dyer and the Swiss national.

Mr. Dyer had been working in Austria and spoke fluent German, according to British news reports. He was in West Africa on a tour organized by a German travel operator and was abducted after attending a cultural festival at Anderamboukane in Mali.

At first it was believed that the abductors were Tuareg rebels, who have regularly clashed with Mali’s army, but in February the Al Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility.

In mid-April, Mr. Dyer’s captors issued an initial demand for the release of Abu Qatada within 20 days. The deadline was then extended by 15 days to May 30, British news reports said.


Alan Cowell reported from London, and Souad Mekhennet from Frankfurt, Germany.

    Al Qaeda Says It Executed Briton, NYT, 4.6.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/world/africa/04hostage.html






UK: Most Terrorism Suspects Freed


May 13, 2009
Filed at 9:41 a.m. ET
The New York Times


LONDON (AP) -- More than half the people arrested in Britain on suspicion of terrorism since 2001 have been freed without being charged, the country's law and order ministry said Wednesday.

Britain's Home Office said 1,471 people were arrested as suspected terrorists between September 2001 and March 2008, the first time it has compiled data on the often controversial arrests.

Of those, fewer than 200 have been convicted as a terrorists -- highlighting questions about police tactics, particularly following high-profile raids on Muslims communities that have failed to bring convictions.

The statistics show British Asians are at least twice as likely to be arrested by terror police than members of other ethnic groups, a trend that has fueled resentment in the Muslim community. Of those arrested by anti-terror police over the last four years, 303 -- or 42 percent -- were classified as Asian, more than double the number classified as white.

Last month, British police released all 12 suspects rounded up in a series of dramatic anti-terror raids in northern England, failing to charge any of the men with an offense. Most were Pakistani Muslims living in Britain.

Their release was an embarrassment for British authorities. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said at the time of the arrests that police had disrupted ''a very big terrorist plot.''

Figures released Wednesday showed that 819 people arrested under terror laws have been freed by police. The data shows that only 7 percent -- or 102 people -- were convicted of an offense under Britain's terrorism laws and 94 others convicted of terrorist related offenses under other criminal laws, like conspiracy to murder.

About 450 others also arrested were mostly charged with offenses not considered to be related to terrorism, like overstaying immigration visa, theft or fraud. The Home Office report gave no information on how many of those were ultimately convicted.

Security officials and police say that since 2001, more than a dozen terrorist plots have been attempted in Britain -- most of which have been thwarted by law enforcement.

Attacks on London's transit system on July 7, 2005 killed 52 people and four suicide bombers.

''The government is committed to investing in our counter-terrorist threat and wherever possible seeks to prosecute those involved with terrorism,'' said Vernon Coaker, a British policing and security minister. ''Where we can't prosecute we seek to deport and where we can't deport we seek to disrupt.''

Britain's Home Office could not immediately provide details of the number of people deported following terrorism investigations.

    UK: Most Terrorism Suspects Freed, NYT, 13.5.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/13/world/AP-EU-Britain-Terrorism-Arrests.html






Muslim men cleared of 7/7 plot but jailed for attending terror camps

There can be no à la carte citizenship, pair told


Thursday 30 April 2009
The Guardian
Rachel Williams


Two British Muslims cleared of helping the 7 July bombers were yesterday accused by a judge of betraying the country that had given them a home, as he jailed them for seven years each for planning to attend a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

Mr Justice Gross told Waheed Ali and Mohammed Shakil their "firm intention" of going to a camp in Baluchistan, which trained people to fight with the Taliban against UK forces in Afghanistan, was no "one-off naive frolic by a pair of dupes".

Sentencing the pair, from Beeston, Leeds, at Kingston crown court, he said those in a democratic society who disagreed with the government's foreign policy had three options: to put up with it, engage in legitimate political debate or leave. "There can be no à la carte citizenship," the judge said.

"It's not open to you to take the benefits of living in Beeston, of our decent and tolerant society, when you choose, and then to consort with those who choose to kill innocent armed forces. By choosing to attend such a camp you betrayed the country that has given you and your families a home."

He accepted that Ali, 25, and Shakil, 32, did not plan to go on to Afghanistan after the camp, but said they had shown an "admitted, averred and long-term commitment" to jihad overseas. Ali had been to training camps twice before, once with the 7 July mastermind, Mohammed Siddique Khan. In 2001, they went to Pakistan and then close to the Taliban frontline in Afghanistan. Shakil went to a camp in 1999 and in 2003 travelled with Khan to train in Malakand, Pakistan, alongside Omar Khyam, the ringleader of a plot to explode massive fertiliser bombs in the UK.

Ali, who was born in Bangladesh, and Shakil, originally from Pakistan, were found not guilty on Tuesday of conspiring with the four 7 July bombers to cause explosions. They had been accused of carrying out a reconnaissance mission to choose targets in London with two of the attackers, Hasib Hussain and Jermaine Lindsay, seven months before the blasts that killed 52 and injured hundreds.

After eight days of deliberations the jury cleared them unanimously, along with their friend Sadeer Saleem, 28. But they found Ali and Shakil guilty of conspiracy to attend a terrorist training camp.

The pair were arrested as they were about to board a flight to Pakistan in March 2007, carrying a suitcase containing heavy duty torches, Swiss army knives and water purification tablets.

The judge said the they were convicted on "overwhelming evidence".

Ali and Shakil could have been sentenced to up to 10 years. Because they have already spent more than two years in jail on remand, they will be released in less than 18 months.

The trial had heard that about 1,000 young Muslims from Britain visited training camps in Pakistan between 1998 and 2003, a figure Gross said was "disturbingly high".

Hazel Webb, whose daughter Laura, 29, was killed in the 7 July bombings, said she was extremely disappointed that Ali and Shakil had not been given the maximum possible sentence.

The three men were the only people to be tried over the bombings, and senior security officials have conceded that no one is now likely to be brought to justice.

    Muslim men cleared of 7/7 plot but jailed for attending terror camps, G, 30.4.2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/30/july-7-london-bombings-trial






Police officer shot dead in Ulster attack


March 10, 2009
From The Times
David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent


A police officer was shot dead in a republican stronghold in Northern Ireland last night. He was the third member of the security forces to be killed in 48 hours.

The dangerous and sudden escalation in violence threatened to draw a counter-reaction from loyalist paramilitaries and destabilise the peace process.

“We are tonight staring into the abyss,” said Dolores Kelly, a member of the nationalist party the SDLP who sits on Northern Ireland’s policing board. “I would appeal to people to pull back.”

Two police officers were responding to a call about “suspicious activity” near a school in the Lismore Avenue area of Craigavon, Co Armagh, at about 9.45pm when their patrol cars were attacked. The gunmen were reported to have fired from wasteground. One officer was killed, the second injured.

The estate is reputed to harbour supporters of a splinter group of the Provisionals styling themselves the Continuity IRA. More shots were reported later. Police carrying machineguns were guarding the scene, with helicopters hovering overhead.

Last week MI5 raised the threat level in the Province from “substantial” to “severe”. On Friday night Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, announced that the Armed Forces Special Reconnaissance Regiment was being drafted in to watch suspected dissident republican terrorists.

On Saturday two unarmed soldiers were shot dead as they took delivery of pizzas at Massereene Barracks in Co Antrim. Two other soldiers and two pizza deliverymen were injured. The Real IRA, a splinter group of the Provisional IRA opposed to power-sharing, said it had carried out the murders. It made no apology for shooting and wounding the civilians because, it said, they were “collaborators of British rule in Ireland”.

The officer is the first member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to be killed by terrorists since the force took over from the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 2001.The last police officers to be murdered by the Provisional IRA were Roland Graham and David Johnston. The community constables had been on foot patrol in Lurgan in 1997 when gunmen ran up and shot them in the backs of their heads.

Sinn Féin was swift to condemn last night’s shooting, having waited 14 hours to respond to Saturday’s incident. John O’Dowd, the local Sinn Féin Assembly member, said that it was an attack on the peace process and would do nothing to advance Irish republican goals. He said that the officers were responding to a call from a member of the public. “It is not clear whether it was a hoax or not,” he added.

Loyalist paramilitaries have so far resisted reaction, despite numerous attacks against police officers over the past 18 months. But while the deaths of soldiers is regarded as an attack on the British state, the murder of a local police officer may be interpreted as an attack on the local unionist community.

Fresh graffiti in the area in a loyalist area of nearby Lurgan yesterday said: “An eye 4 an eye — back 2 war”.

Earlier in the day while on a visit to Northern Ireland, Gordon Brown insisted that the peace process was unshakable. On a hastily arranged trip, he visited the scene of Saturday’s shooting and met local political leaders. He said: “These are callous murderers, these are terrorists who showed no sympathy towards people who were dying . . . these people have got to be hunted down. The political process will not and can never be shaken. In fact, the political process is now unshakeable.”

Since the start of last year, dissident groups have mounted 18 gun and bomb attacks.

Mr O’Dowd said of last night’s killing: “This is an attack on the peace process. It is wrong and it is counter-productive and I would extend my condolences to the dead man’s family. As with what happened in Antrim over the weekend, we condemn it. Whoever carried out this shooting was not doing so to advance Irish republican or democratic goals. They have no strategy to deliver a United Ireland.

“This is a time for strong political leadership and cool heads. It is a time for all political parties and the two governments to recommit to the principles which have underpinned the peace process and delivered the stability of recent years.”

David Simpson, Democratic Unionist Party MP for the Upper Bann constituency, where the shooting took place, said: “What we have seen is a deliberate and sustained effort by terrorist murderers to try and drag Northern Ireland back to the worst days of Ulster’s past. I utterly and completely condemn the criminals responsible for this latest outrage and I hope that the vermin responsible for it are brought to justice immediately.

“Events such as the murders at Massereene and this latest terrorist atrocity show us all the need for a swift, co-ordinated and ruthless security and government response.”

A spokesman for the PSNI said that officers were called out to Lismore Manor at about 9.45pm by a member of the public. “Two police vehicles arrived in the area. Both officers alighted from the vehicles. It appears gunshots were fired at them. One officer was struck by gunfire and subsequently he has died from his wounds.”

    Police officer shot dead in Ulster attack, NYT, 10.3.2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5878171.ece






Brown holds security talks in Northern Ireland

PM arrives at Massereene barracks
to meet province's most senior army officer for security talks about terror resurgence


Monday 9 March 2009 09.18 GMT
Owen Bowcott
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 09.18 GMT on Monday 9 March 2009.
It was last updated at 12.09 GMT on Monday 9 March 2009.


The prime minister, Gordon Brown, arrived at Massereene barracks in Northern Ireland early this morning to hold talks about military security with the province's most senior army officer.

Brown flew in to Aldegrove airport outside Belfast and was driven to the 38 Engineers Regiment base, the scene of the attack at the weekend claimed by the Real IRA.

Flanked by motorcycle outriders, a convoy of armoured black Range Rovers carrying the prime minister arrived just before 8.20am.

They drove through the entrance where the two young soldiers were gunned down on Saturday evening as they came out to collect pizzas.

The convoy passed the accumulating pile of flowers left by wellwishers just outside the entrance to the barracks.

Brown was joined by the Northern Ireland secretary, Shaun Woodward, and the province's security minister, Paul Goggins, for the meeting with Brigadier George Norton, the Northern Ireland garrison commander.

They are discussing measures to improve security at the remaining army bases as the threat of attack from dissident republican groups deepens.

The attack follows an incident in which a 300lb (136kg) bomb was abandoned last month in Castlewellan, County Down. The device had been prepared for use against another army barracks.

After the meeting at the Massereene base in Antrim, the prime minister will be driven to Stormont to hold talks with the leaders of the power-sharing devolved administration.

He will meet Peter Robinson, the first minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist party, and Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Féin politician who is deputy first minister.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said that there were no plans for the prime minister to visit the injured in hospital.

    Brown holds security talks in Northern Ireland, G, 9.3.2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/mar/09/brown-arrives-massereene-barracks






British Muslims 'went on reconnaissance' for July 7 attacks


January 19, 2009
Times Online
David Brown


Two British Muslims who went on a “reconnaissance” mission for the July 7 bombings on London were later caught planning to attend a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, a court heard today.

The retrial of three men accused of conspiring with the gang which killed 52 people in 2005 was told they visited tourist attractions including the Natural History Museum and London Eye during a trip to the capital.

Mr Justice Gross told the jury at Kingston Crown Court that there had been a previous trial on these matters but they should ignore any publicity from the earlier case.

Waheed Ali, 25, Sadeer Saleem, 28, and Mohammed Shakil, 32 deny conspiring to cause explosions. Mr Ali and Mr Shakil also deny a change of conspiring to attend a terrorist training camp in March 2007. All three men come from Beeston, Leeds.

The court heard that the three defendants visited London in December 2004 with two of the 7/7 bombers, Hasib Hussain and Jermaine Lindsay. Hussain later killed 13 passengers on a bus in Tavistock Place in Lindsay killed 26 people on a Piccadilly Line train at Russell Square.

Neil Flewitt, QC, for the prosecution, said: “The defendants associated with and shared the beliefs and objectives of the London bombers and so were willing to assist them in one particular and important aspect of their preparation for the London bombings.

“The London visit was an important step in what was, by then, a settled plan to cause explosion in the UK.”

Mr Flewitt said there was a “clear correlation” between the locations visited by the defendants in December 2004, the sites visited by three of the bombers during another “hostile reconnaissance” in June 2005 and the locations at which the bombs were actually detonated less than two weeks later.

Lindsay had been joined on the June 2005 reconnaissance by Mohammed Sidique Khan, who killed six people on a Circle Line train at Edgware Road, and Shezhad Tanweer, who killed seven people on a Tube train at Aldgate.”

Mr Flewitt said: “Although the defendants accept that they knew the London bombers, it is their case that their friendship was entirely innocent and that they know nothing of and took no part in their planning to cause explosions in the UK.”

The court was told that the defendants say they went to London so Mr Ali could visit his sister. Mr Saleem and Mr Shakil admit visiting the natural History Museum London Eye and London Aquarium but insist they did so for purely social reasons.

The court heard that Mr Ali and Mr Shakill do not deny planning to visit Pakistan but the defence will say they did not commit the offence claimed under the Terrorism Act 2006.

The jury was shown CCTV clips of the four bombers on their journey to London on July 7 and the moments Tanweer and Hussain detonated their explosives.

    British Muslims 'went on reconnaissance' for July 7 attacks, Ts, 19.1.2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article5546439.ece