I was in accused bomb cell, says al-Qa'ida supergrass

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The Independent Online

An al-Qa'ida supergrass who has admitted his part in a British bomb plot was a follower of two notorious UK- based preachers, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Mohammed Junaid Babar said he had been influenced by Abu Hamza, the former imam of the Finsbury Park mosque in London, and Omar Bakri Mohammed, the radical Islamic cleric.

Mr Barbar, a 31-year-old American, was testifying against seven British Muslims charged with plotting to detonate a fertiliser bomb, possibly in a London nightclub or the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. He says he was a member of their cell, meeting them in training camps in Pakistan.

Omar Khyam, 24, his brother Shujah Mahmood, 19, Waheed Mahmood, 34, and Jawad Akbar, 22, all from Crawley, West Sussex, Salahuddin Amin, 31, from Luton, Anthony Garcia, 23, of Ilford, east London, and Nabeel Hussain, 20, of Horley, Surrey, deny conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life between 2003 and 2004.

Mr Babar, who has pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to being part of the British plot, has been given immunity from prosecution in the UK. He told the jury he had travelled to Britain from the US and Abu Hamza, jailed for seven years last month for inciting murder. He also met Omar Bakri Mohammed in London. He is now in Leban-on, barred from Britain.

He spoke of Omar Bakri Mohammed as an influence after he joined the New York branch of his radical organisation, Al-Mujaharoun.

"I was able to communicate with them on the internet and speak on the phone and I was able to see the literature they had on the internet," he said.

Asked about Abu Hamza, Mr Babar said: "He [had] a website called the Supporters of Shariah, which I would frequently go to, where it had his lectures and books and you could get information about his beliefs and what he thought the solution would be. I did have contact with Sheikh Abu Hamza later on. It was after 9/11."

Mr Babar said he became radicalised after the first Gulf War in 1991. He said he had decided to fight against the US despite his mother escaping death in the first of the twin towers hit by al-Qa'ida suicide bombers in 2001. Within about a week of the attack, he had decided to fly to Afghanistan because he knew America would be attacking it.

Mr Babar, who was born in Pakistani, said he initially travelled to Britain and then to Pakistan with the intention of going to Afghanistan. While in Pakistan, he said, he met Britons, mainly from the London and Crawley area. e said they included men called Ausman, Abdul Waheed, Abdul Rahman and Khalid. Jurors had heard these were aliases of the defendants Mr Khyam, Waheed Mahmood, Mr Garcia and Mr Amin.

He said: "Those brothers who came basically from England and were in Pakistan at the time after 9/11, 15 or 20 of us came to Pakistan for the jihad."

One of the seven is also accused of a failed plot to buy an atomic "dirty" bomb from the Russian mafia. The trial continues.