Extremist gang wanted British recruits for Pakistani terror training camps


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The Independent Online

A gang of Al Qa'ida inspired extremists were trying to recruit British radicals for terrorist training in  Pakistan, a court heard today.

Last week the nine predominantly UK-born men pleaded guilty to terrorist charges. While four conceded  their part in a plot to bomb the Stock Exchange, three others pleaded guilty to funding fire arms training camps.

Today, as he outlined the prosecution case before sentencing, Andrew Edis QC said two of the men - Nazam Hussain, 26 and Usman Khan, 20 - were planning to visit Kashmir in January 2011

Khan was secretly recorded at his home in Stoke-on-Trent, talking about plans for a training camp, which was to be disguised as a legitimate "madrassa" or Islamic school,  Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Suggesting the terrorists could live on jobseeker's allowance, Khan was heard trying to persuade an unknown man to fly out to the camp in Kashmir, as the only options were "victory, martyrdom or prison".

"There's three things brothers can do - first is funding, second is getting brothers to go there, third is inciting, which everyone could do in their own community," he said.

"It is also quite clear that the hope is that there will be a significant number of UK citizens  who will attend there," Mr Edis explained. "When running a training camp of this kind, the prosecution say,
they create a risk that they themselves or other graduates of it will commit acts of terrorism wherever they find themselves to be, using the skills they have acquired."

At the start of mitigating evidence Christopher Blaxland QC, for Mohammed Chowdhury, 22, said his Bangladeshi client, who had a stammer and suffered from thyroid cancer in 2006, was inspired by Islamic extremists in the UK and attended "headline-catching, deliberately provocative"  demonstrations, including one on Remembrance Day where poppies were burned.

Despite being immersed in jihadi rhetoric, he insisted: "Ultimately the likelihood that he would have actually  done something is frankly extremely remote."

Last week Chowdhury along with fellow Londoner Shah Rahman, 29, as well as Abdul Miah, 25, and Gurukanth Desai, 30, both from Cardiff, admitted  to intending to commit an act of terrorism by planning to plant an explosive device at the London Stock Exchange.

Khan and Hussain along with Mohammed Shahjahan, 27, all from Stoke-on-Trent admitted to preparing acts of terrorism by attending meetings to discuss attacks as well as fund raising to support sending British men to training camps in Kashmir.

Omar Latif, 28, from Cardiff, pleaded guilty to attending meetings at which terrorist attacks were discussed while Mohibur Rahman, 27, from Stoke-on-Trent, admitted owning copies of Inspire magazine.

The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, indicated that he expects to pass sentence on Thursday.