Jihadi terror obsession led to pair's conviction

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The Independent Online

Ishaq Kanmi's obsession with al-Qa'ida led to the conviction of two other men on terrorism offences.

In 2007 and 2008 he became a determined supporter of Jihadi terrorism, whose aim was to persuade others to commit murders and acts of terror.

He signed up to an internet chat forum as Umar Rabie, the leader of a supposed al-Qa'ida splinter group called al-Qa'ida in Britain.

Kanmi wanted to give the impression that he was an active, influential and authoritative Jihadi who asked people to do things and gave them information on how to achieve their goals.

In his online guise he was the freedom fighter who had just returned wounded from the battlegrounds of disputed Kashmir or the committed warrior who had been locked in combat with US forces in Iraq.

The reality was that Kanmi sent most of his messages from the more tranquil setting of Blackburn Central Library.

One of his chat forum contacts was failed asylum seeker Krenar Lusha.

Police described Albanian national Lusha, 30, as a "lone wolf" who was "off everybody's radar" after he entered the UK on the back of a lorry nine years ago. He only came to the attention of the authorities when they investigated Kanmi.

It is understood that there is no evidence that the two men ever met but their connections were enough to alarm detectives following the arrest of Kanmi at Manchester Airport en route to Finland in August 2008.

When counter-terror officers swooped on Lusha's terrace home in Moore Street, Derby, they found him downloading the Hezbollah Military Instructions Manual video on to his computer.

The film advised how to make detonators, explosives, a missile and a suicide bomber belt.

Also discovered in his house was 71.8 litres of petrol, computer documents called Ragnar's Detonators and The Bomb Book, and videos including Mobile Detonators.

A total of 14 mobile phones were also found at the address.

Lusha also admitted possessing fake identification papers, including bogus Italian and Yugoslavian driving licences.

He was jailed for seven years at Preston Crown Court last December and was told he would be deported to Albania at the conclusion of his sentence.

Fellow Blackburn man Abbas Iqbal, 24, was travelling with Kanmi to Finland when both were detained at Manchester Airport.

Kanmi had recommended Iqbal to a mosque in Helsinki who were looking from someone to perform the prayers of the Koran, translated from Arabic, and to teach religious education to children.

Kanmi had already visited the mosque in his supposed role as Islamic scholar.

On the surface their trip looked innocent enough but they were prevented from flying when a library of terrorist material was found in storage cards contained in Kanmi's suitcase and a video of two men in camouflage crawling across a park in broad daylight was discovered in Iqbal's luggage.

The park video filmed by Iqbal was introduced by a voice stating: "They are fighting against oppression, they are The Blackburn Resistance."

It was accompanied by a background chant which recites: "I am the armour for those who believe in the unity of Allah. I am the fire against the aggressor."

Iqbal's family home in Percival Street was searched and officers uncovered an armoury stockpile in a cabinet and a desktop computer containing extremist material.

Following a trial at Manchester Crown Court, he was sentenced in March to two years in jail for dissemination of terrorist material and one year for preparing for acts of terrorism, to run concurrently. He later walked free from court as he had already served two-and-a-half years on remand.

His brother, Ilyas Iqbal, 23, was also sentenced to 18 months in prison for possession of a document likely to be useful to a terrorist but he too was released after spending the same time on remand.

Passing sentence on Abbas Iqbal, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said: "You fancied yourself as a fighter for the cause but the truth is you were a very low-grade one.

"It would be wrong to pass a long sentence on someone who is obviously more taken with the vanity than the reality."