Nine jailed over London bomb plot

 

Nine members of an al-Qa'ida-inspired terror group that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and build a terrorist training camp were jailed today.

Three of the Islamist extremists, who planned to raise funds for the camp in Pakistan and recruit Britons to attend it, received indeterminate sentences for public protection at London's Woolwich Crown Court.

Mohammed Shahjahan 27, was jailed for a minimum term of eight years and 10 months, while fellow Stoke-on-Trent-based radicals Usman Khan, 20, and Nazam Hussain, 26, were ordered to serve at least eight years behind bars.

The court heard that the trio planned to establish the terrorist camp on land in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir owned by Khan's family and encourage a "significant" number of British Muslims to undergo training there.

Khan and Hussain planned to travel to the camp and receive military instruction themselves before "obtaining first-hand terrorist experience in Kashmir", the hearing was told.

Passing sentence, the judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said this was a "serious, long-term venture in terrorism" that could also have resulted in atrocities in Britain.

He noted: "It was envisaged by them all that ultimately they and the other recruits may return to the UK as trained and experienced terrorists available to perform terrorist attacks in this country, on one possibility contemplated in the context of the return of British troops from Afghanistan."

The Stoke extremists also talked about setting off pipe bombs in the toilets of pubs in their home town, the court heard.

The judge said they were "more serious jihadists" than their fellow defendants and observed that father-of-two Shahjahan was regarded as the "emir", or leader, of the whole group.

The four fundamentalists who plotted to plant a pipe bomb in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange all received extended sentences, meaning they will have to spend an extra five years on licence after they are freed from prison.

Mr Justice Wilkie jailed Abdul Miah, 25, from Cardiff, for 16 years and 10 months, noting that he was the leader of a branch of the terrorist network and set the agenda "by virtue of his maturity, criminal nous, experience and personality".

His brother, Gurukanth Desai, 30, from Cardiff, and Shah Rahman, 28, from east London, were jailed for 12 years, and Mohammed Chowdhury, 22, from east London, who was described as the "lynchpin" of the group, was sentenced to 13 years and eight months.

He spoke about carrying out a "Mumbai-style" attack at the Houses of Parliament or the London Eye, the court heard.

And a hand-written target list found at Chowdhury's home listed the names and addresses of London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, two rabbis, the American Embassy in London and the Stock Exchange.

Desai and Miah were bugged claiming that fewer than 100,000 Jews died in the Holocaust and talking about how Hitler "had been on the same side as the Muslims" because he understood that "the Jews were dangerous".

The judge noted that Chowdhury was a "compulsive self-publicist", Shah Rahman failed to impress the Cardiff members, Miah was "criminally experienced" but repeatedly failed to conceal his wrongdoing, and Desai was "very much subordinate" to his brother.

Omar Latif, 28, from Cardiff, was jailed for 10 years and four months, with an extended period on licence of another five years, for attending meetings with the intention of assisting others to prepare or commit acts of terrorism.

The judge said: "By his presence at those meetings he was contributing by encouraging the others to form the intention to commit those terrorist acts and to prepare for them."

Mohibur Rahman, 27, from Stoke-on-Trent, received a five-year prison sentence for possessing two copies of the online al-Qa'ida magazine Inspire for terrorist purposes.

The men - who are all British citizens apart from Bangladesh-born Chowdhury and Shah Rahman - have spent 408 days on remand and this will be deducted from their sentences.

The men formed the extremist network at meetings in Roath Park, Cardiff, on November 7 2010, and Cwmcarn Country Park near Newport, South Wales, on December 12.

They were well advanced in their terrorist planning when police swooped to arrest them on December 20 2010.

Between them, the nine men possessed almost every famous jihadi publication, including copies of Inspire, an English language internet magazine produced by Yemen-based extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki's group al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula.

The improvised explosive device for the planned London Stock Exchange attack was to be based on step-by-step instructions in an article in Inspire's first issue entitled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom".

Defence barristers argued during the four-day sentencing hearing that the plots to attack the Stock Exchange and create the training camp were unlikely to have succeeded.

There was a brief scuffle outside the court building after the sentencing hearing.

A small group of the jailed extremists' supporters, who had been sitting in the public gallery, began shouting slogans through a loudhailer, but security staff quickly moved them on.

Piers Arnold, reviewing lawyer of the Crown Prosecution Service's special crime and counter-terrorism division, said after the hearing: "This was a case about nine young men who in October 2010 formed a group for the purpose of carrying out acts of terrorism.

"They are all aged between 20 and 30 years old and are all residents of the United Kingdom.

"Four of the men are from Stoke, three are from Cardiff and two from London.

"What they had in common was that they all held extreme fundamentalist religious beliefs and were committed to converting those beliefs into terrorist action."

He added: "These men were motivated to act as they did in large part by extreme jihadist propaganda circulated on the internet by organisations like al-Qa'ida in the hope that impressionable young men in the West will be inspired to carry out attacks in the places where they live."

PA

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