Finsbury Park mosque's terrorist roll call

The notorious Finsbury Park mosque became a breeding ground for terrorism during the six years that Abu Hamza held a "controlling influence" there.

Dozens of anti-terrorism investigations led detectives back to the north London building, which became known as a first port of call, a meeting place and a haven for terror suspects arriving and operating in the UK.

The list of those linked to the mosque features the names of some of the most dangerous terrorists to have been captured by the authorities in recent years.

The shoebomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged "20th" 9/11 hijacker, were among the angry young Muslims who went there.

Hamza, as the imam of the mosque and its central figure, wielded a powerful influence over those who passed through its doors.

During his Old Bailey trial, it was alleged he became a "recruiting sergeant for terrorism and murder", preaching hate to a "tinderbox" congregation.

His persuasive oratory and virulent anti-western rants inspired scores of impressionable young Muslims and he soon became a magnet for radicals worldwide.

Many were even dossing down at the mosque for a time - including the police killer and al Qaida suspect Kamel Bourgass - as it became a hotbed of extremism.

According to senior security sources, Hamza was far from the harmless demagogue that some mistakenly portrayed him as.

"It would be a mistake to regard him as a buffoon," a senior police source said.

"That is tempting because he has become something of a caricature image, but that is not right. To say he is divorced from operational terrorist activity entirely would be wrong.

"He was an influential character. That should not be diminished."

Security sources say Hamza was a key figure in the global jihadi movement in the late 1990s and early part of this decade, with an extensive sphere of influence.

While he held sway, Finsbury Park mosque became a shelter for radical young Muslims arriving in Britain from abroad.

"There were an awful lot of people who came into the country, and it would seem that one of their first ports of call was Finsbury Park, to get orientated and get contacts and the like," the police source said.

Hamza was a crucial figure in "enabling and facilitating" these people and allowing them "to congregate, to meet and have mutual support in London".

"The mosque was clearly known far and wide as a place to come, a place to meet and a safe haven," the source added.

The US accuses Hamza of having links to high ranking Taliban and al Qaida figures and of helping young recruits to travel to the terror network's training camps in Afghanistan.

"I think there is little doubt that he had a role in facilitating that," the police source said. "But you cannot put a number on it."

Soon, anti-terrorist detectives began to realise that, much like a spider's web, a large proportion of their investigations into extremist activity pointed them in the direction of the mosque.

"Many, many investigations into extremist networks and terrorist activity here found themselves with links or connections to the mosque during that period," the senior police source revealed.

"I do not think it is a co-incidence that so many terrorist investigations have led us to that building during that time."

He continued: "If you drew a chart of global terrorism, you would be able to draw many, many linkages into Finsbury Park, not because they were necessarily coming there and plotting, because they were meeting like minded people - it was somewhere to come when they first came to London."

When police finally raided the mosque in January 2003, they found an array of terrorist paraphernalia, including nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protective suits, blank firing weapons, a stun gun and a CS canister.

Detectives suspect the material had been used in terror training camps in the UK.

Among the terror suspects linked to the mosque were:

* Richard Reid - British-born Reid tried to detonate a shoebomb on a transatlantic flight from Paris to Miami in late 2001, but was overpowered by passengers as he tried to ignite the explosives. He was later jailed for life by an American court.

* Zacarias Moussaoui - a French Moroccan, Moussaoui is the only person to have been charged in the US over the 9/11 attacks. He claimed he was not part of the 9/11 plot itself, but of a wider conspiracy to attack the White House and said he was personally chosen by Osama bin Laden for a plot to crash planes into US buildings.

* Kamel Bourgass - an Algerian, also known as Nadir Habra, Bourgass was convicted last year of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance over an alleged plot to manufacture the deadly poison ricin. After a raid on the flat in Wood Green, north London, at the centre of the plot, Bourgass fled and went into hiding at a flat in Manchester. He stabbed Detective Constable Stephen Oake to death and seriously injured three other police officers as he tried to escape. He has been jailed for life. Bourgass was dossing down there in the weeks before his attempts to make ricin were discovered. Senior security sources believe it is "more than likely" he met Hamza.

* Feroz Abbasi - he is thought to have worshipped at the mosque, before allegedly being sent by Hamza to attend terror training camps in Afghanistan. Abbasi, from Croydon, south London, was later detained as an "enemy combatant" and sent to the US naval detention base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He returned to Britain last year and after being questioned by police, was released without charge.

* Abu Doha - an Algerian, whose real name is Amar Makhlulif, Doha, who is also known as The Doctor, was arrested in February 2001 trying to leave Heathrow for Saudi Arabia on a fake passport. He is still fighting extradition to US over the alleged "millennium plot" to blow up an airport in Los Angeles. According to US, Doha won permission from Osama bin Laden to set up the Khalden terror training camp in Afghanistan where hundreds of Algerian terrorists emerged from. He then based himself in London where Finsbury Park mosque was a focal point for the Algerian community.

* Rabah Kadre - Kadre, known as "Toufik", took over control of the Abu Doha network when the boss was detained. Mohamed Meguerba, Bourgass's alleged co-conspirator in the ricin plot described meeting Kadre at Finsbury Park mosque. Kadre is now in jail in the UK fighting extradition to France over his alleged connections with other members of the Doha network, who allegedly plotted to blow up a Christmas market in Strasbourg.

* Djamel Beghal - he is said to have recruited Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui and Nizar Trabelsi as suicide bombers at the Finsbury Park mosque. He was later arrested in Dubai and jailed over an alleged plot to attack the US Embassy in Paris. Beghal is now in jail in France. In a separate court case in the UK, prosecutors said that Beghal was so extreme he was once viewed as "beyond the pale" even by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

* Nizar Trabelsi - a Tunisian ex-footballer who hung out at Finsbury Park mosque and volunteered to become a suicide bomber. He was later jailed in Belgium for plotting to attack the Kleine Brogel Nato airbase.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower