Asylum seeker convicted over terror manual hoard

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The Independent Online

A failed asylum seeker who hoarded manuals on how to carry out bombings using cars filled with gas bottles was facing jail today.

In a chilling echo of the Glasgow and London attacks, nightclubs and airports were amongst the 'suitable targets' identified in the 'vast library' of terror material found on the computer of Omar Altimimi.

The 37-year-old, who had links to Arab terrorists, had collected detailed information on how to set up terror cells in the UK, ways to make explosives and how car bombs can be detonated at the entrances to buildings via remote control.

Described by security sources as a "clean skin", Altimimi was not known as a terror suspect when he came to England to "blend-in" by applying for jobs with the police and as a teacher.

But he had links with Arab terror cells in Europe, kept up multiple identities to cover his tracks and hoarded computer files on his home PC detailing how to plan and carry out jihadi terror.

Father-of-three Altimimi, from Bolton, Lancashire, was found guilty of four counts of possessing material for the purpose of terrorism yesterday following a four-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Today he was convicted of two more charges of possession of material for a purpose connected with terrorism and two charges of money laundering.

He claimed to have no knowledge of the material on his computer.

All the offences took place between February and June of last year.

The court heard how Altimimi was linked to terrorists in Holland and to Junade Ferouze, 31, from Blackburn, who was jailed last month for 22 years for his part in bomb plots led by Dhinen Barot, named as al Qaida's " General" in the UK.

Altimimi kept up at least three parallel identities. He claimed to be an Iraqi brought up in the Yemen. In fact police still do not know his real identity.

He came to the UK from the Netherlands in 2002 claiming asylum for himself, wife, Samahir Alazzeh, and three young children.

He claimed benefits, including more than £100,000 from the National Asylum Support Service, while applying for jobs with Greater Manchester Police and a local college.

He was arrested in March last year on suspicion of money laundering after 54,610 dollars (£27,000) was stolen from the Yemen Tourist Board.

Altimimi was arrested on suspicion of money laundering on March 24 last year at the Nationwide Building Society in Newport Street, Bolton, alongside Yusuf Abdullah, 30.

When Altimimi tried to withdraw £3,000 transferred to him by Abdullah, police were waiting.

Detectives searched two homes he kept in Bolton, on Lansdowne Road and Eastbank Street, and seized his computer.

In it they found masses of terror related material.

Files on his computer contained instructions for making bombs, detonators and explosives as well as information on bombing strategies.

He also had video clips of "graphic and appalling" executions of hostages in Iraq.

Yusuf Abdullah had previously pleaded guilty to money laundering offences.

The Recorder of Manchester, Judge Maddison, remanded the defendant in custody for sentence tomorrow with Abdullah.

Altimimi, who now faces up to 15 years in jail, made no reaction as the remaining guilty verdicts were delivered.

Other information found on his computer gave instructions on how to disguise bombs hidden in Persil boxes and sweets.

He also kept video clips showing Osama bin Laden and praising the "Knights of London" for the 7/7 outrage.

The advice included information for suicide bombings on a bus and tips on targets such as markets, stadium exits, colleges, cinemas, buses and bus stops, using to shrapnel to maximise death and injury.

Also found was a recipe for creating poisonous cyanide gas using tablet capsules which would kill humans within minutes, a shopping list of common substances for use in home-made bombs and a "chilling" reference to the use of radioactive radium in explosives.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter, head of the Greater Manchester Police Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "We will never know who Altimimi really is.

"He developed a range of identities, which would allow him to expand his terrorist activities.

"He is a congenital liar and has lied throughout this investigation.

"Altimimi arrived in Bolton and then used his wife and children in a bid to blend into the community appearing as an ordinary family.

"But behind closed doors he was downloading shocking videos of executions, bomb-making recipes and information on how to establish a terrorist cell.

"He appears to have been a 'sleeper' remaining in the shadows waiting and preparing for action.

"We will never know exactly what Altimimi was preparing to do but it was clear he had support and links with terrorists across the world."

During the investigation officers carried out inquiries in 14 countries stretching from Scandinavia to the Middle East.

Much of the material on Altimimi's computer was downloaded from a secret password-protected al Qaida Internet site.

Mr Porter added: "This case demonstrates how important it is for people to report any concerns about suspicious activity to us.

"When people provide information to the police they could be giving us the final piece of a complex jigsaw."