Extremists planned to use radio-controlled car in attack on Army base, court told

Four men from Luton have pleaded guilty to the preparation of terrorist acts and are due to be sentenced tomorrow

Four Islamic extremists plotted an attack on a Territorial Army base by sending a radio-controlled model car filled with explosives underneath the front gate of the compound, a court heard today.

One of the men was picked up on a secret listening device explaining how a toy car could be sent through the gap, underneath a military vehicle and triggered using a mobile phone detonator, Woolwich Crown Court was told.

The group had discussed attacks against "multiple sites" in Britain after their ambitions to send radicalised young Britons for terror-training abroad was hampered after losing contact with an al-Qa'ida linked fixer in Pakistan. They spoke about the possibility of doing an "inside job" on MI5 and another member of the gang talked of having a cousin in the US Air Force who could do a lot of damage.

The men, all from Luton, Bedfordshire planned to use information downloaded from the extremist magazine Inspire to build a home-made bomb and discussed getting money and guns to carry out their plans.

"They also identified a target for such an attack, namely a Territorial Army base in their locality, although they also discussed targeting multiple sites at one time," said Max Hill, QC, counsel for the prosecution.

Zahid Iqbal, 31; Mohammed Ahmed, 25, Umar Arshad, 24, and Syed Hussain, 21, have all pleaded guilty to the preparation of terrorist acts. They are due to be sentenced tomorrow.

Iqbal and Ahmed were caught on a recording device - hidden by police and security services in their car - on their way to Argos as they discussed fixing a bomb to a radio control car and setting it off using a mobile phone.

"At the bottom of their gate (The TA centre) there's quite a big gap. If you had a little toy car it drives underneath one of their vehicles or something," said Iqbal.

Ahmed said there were one or two places where they could test it out. He added that "obviously the test run is going to be a bit hot and you need to be careful because you don't want to get caught on a test run."

The court heard that Ahmed travelled to both Pakistan for terror-training and to Snowdonia where he was seen with a group of associates performing press-ups, regimental walking and apparently using logs as firearms.

He went to Pakistan in March 2011 but came back after only six days because of problems speaking Arabic and difficulties in the region. However, he spoke of how being threatened by drones was a life-changing experience but that "afterwards you buzz".

He was told by one of his fellow plotters: "The Muslim is never scared of death. Do not ever fear death and run towards death. That's what you've got to do man."

Ahmed worked to recruit and radicalise young men before passing them to Iqbal to send them abroad, the court was told. When the four men were finally arrested in April the following year, police found 14 laptops and more than 100 smartphones.

The sentencing hearing continues.