Man admits plot to behead British Muslim soldier

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The Independent Online

A violent and extreme fanatic plotted to behead a British Muslim soldier "like a pig" and film the killing in a lock-up garage, a court was told yesterday.

Parviz Khan then planned to broadcast footage of "the ghastly death" in an attempt to spread panic among the armed forces and the public.

Leicester Crown Court heard how the 37-year-old unemployed charity worker was at the centre of a Birmingham terrorist cell, sending equipment to fighters operating on the Afghan border. Allegedly, the equipment was disguised as medicine and clothes for earthquake victims.

Details of Khan's plans emerged yesterday as two other men accused of activities connected to the cell went on trial.

Khan, along with three other men, has already pleaded guilty to charges connected to the plot – and supplying equipment to terrorists – but the two others deny offences under the Terrorism Act. Amjad Mahmood, 32, of Birmingham, denies knowing about the plot to murder a soldier and failing to disclose it to the authorities between April 2006 and February 2007. Zahoor Iqbal, 30, also from Birmingham, denies possessing a document or record likely to be useful to a terrorist, namely a computer disc entitled "Encyclopedia Jihad".

The two men also deny helping to supply terrorists in Pakistan, engaging in conduct with the intention of assisting in the commission of acts of terrorism between April 2006 and February 2007.

Nigel Rumfitt QC, for the prosecution, told the court that Khan had pleaded guilty a fortnight ago. He had hoped, Mr Rumfitt said, to kidnap a soldier by ambushing him in Birmingham's Broad Street entertainment quarter, and was planning to enlist the help of drug dealers to capture the soldier.

"He would be taken to a lock-up garage and there he would be murdered by having his head cut off like a pig. This atrocity would be filmed ... and the film released to cause panic and fear within the British armed forces and the wider public," said Mr Rumfitt.

Meanwhile, Khan actively gathered equipment such as computer hard drives, walkie-talkies, range-finders and night vision equipment, to be sent to Pakistan for terrorists operating near the Afghan border. He would return from the country with "shopping lists".

"The prosecution say that Parviz Khan is a fanatic. He is a man who has the most violent and extreme views. He was enraged by the idea that there were Muslim soldiers in the British Army," explained Mr Rumfitt.

Khan had asked Basiru Gassama, 30, a Gambian national, to help identify a victim. He failed to come up with details of an individual target and did not report the plot to the authorities.

Gassama, from the Hodge Hill area of Birmingham, has pleaded guilty after failing to inform the authorities of the plan to kill a soldier. A bug placed in Khan's home in Alum Rock by security services recorded "highly incriminating and damaging comments", the court was told. On 6 November 2006, Mr Rumfitt said, Gassama visited Khan and was shown videos of beheadings in an attempt to persuade him to help the cell.

The prosecution alleged that another conversation included Khan discussing the plot with Amjad Mahmood. He was also recorded telling Zahoor Iqbal about a hi-tech video camera for filming operations and suicide bomber's wills. "What he is talking about is guerrillas in the border area on day and night operations to use as propaganda to inspire young Muslims around the world to join them," explained Mr Rumfitt.

The jury was told that two other men from Birmingham, Mohammed Irfan, 31, and Hamid Elasmar, 44, have also pleaded guilty to helping Khan supply the equipment.

All six men were arrested on 31 January 2006 in a series of coordinated police raids. During searches of their homes "disturbingly violent" Islamist material was found, the court was told. At Mr Iqbal's home in Perry Barr, they discovered electronic "books" on booby traps and grenades, US Army field manuals and a "mujahedin poison book".

In interview, Mr Mahmood exercised his right not to answer questions but issued a statement saying he did not agree with terrorist activity and had never been asked to support insurgents in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Mr Iqbal insisted that Khan had told him the black bags at his home were to be shipped out to Pakistan for charity. The trial continues.