A group of men who admitted plotting terrorist attacks in London decided against becoming suicide bombers because they were planning a very serious, long-term campaign, a court heard yesterday.
Predominantly British born they had developed from proponents of poppy burning to serious advocates of violent attacks, inspired by Al-Qa'ida propaganda aimed at inciting western radicals to cause blood shed in their own homelands.
Last week, on the eve of a five month, multi-million pound trial, the nine young men all admitted terrorism offences. Four of them conceded their part in a plot to bomb the Stock Exchange while three others pleaded guilty to planning to send British men to terror training camps. Two others admitted related offences.
Together they made a lethal combination, Andrew Edis QC said yesterday at the opening of a three day sentencing at Woolwich Crown Court.
"These defendants had decided that ultimately they would be responsible for very serious acts of terrorism and what was observed during (six weeks in 2010) was planning for the immediate future, not involving suicide attempts so that there would be a long term future which would include further acts of terrorism."
By the time they were arrested the gang had downloaded hundreds of articles, preaching hatred against the unbeliever. They had rejected the "covenant" which forbids attacks in their home nations and embraced Al-Qa'ida's more radical preachings of violence against westerners, including civilians.
"Between these nine defendants, they had almost every almost every famous jihadi publication, in some cases multiple copies," said Mr Edis. "These defendants have quite genuinely come to be uncritical followers of that jihadi ideology."
Having made contact over the internet, they first met in November 2010. In a few short weeks before their arrests on 20 December 2010, they had developed rapidly into a group capable of dangerous attacks.
"The evidence is that it had developed substantially during what was a short period of time. There was a rapid state of progress," said Mr Edis. "The evidence reveals a degree of commitment and resourcefulness which shows this group was capable of terrorist action and was determined to take steps to improve that capability."
The defendants split into two sections, Bangladeshi men based in London and Cardiff, who talked of Mumbai style attacks and plotted the Stock Exchange bomb, along with men of Pakistani origin based in Stoke-on-Trent who had considered bombing local pubs but focused largely on obtaining funding and establishing terrorist training abroad.
"There is an immediacy about the London Stock Exchange bomb plot and there is a degree of pre-meditation about the involvement in the terrorist training camp. Each conduct is different and highly significant," said Mr Edis, adding that together they created "a very serious threat in this country".
The men were influenced by the teachings of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al-Qa'ida since
Osama bin Laden's death, and devotees of Anwar Al-Awlaki, until his death the senior figure in Al-Qa'ida in the Arab Peninsula, which produced Inspire magazine, a publication aimed at galvanising western radicals.
Yesterday the court was shown a film made up of images from Inspire magazine, showing how to make a pipe bomb using household components such as matches, a clock and a pressure cooker.
An expert concluded this would enable someone within a few hours to produce a "viable" device capable of killing or maiming people, the court heard.
The magazine - downloaded by the defendants - promoted a "strategy of death by a thousand cuts" in that if there were as many attacks as possible, some would be successful.
It offered training tips and advice including "don't stick out like a sore thumb" or how to cover your tracks on the internet . One article suggested welding blades to a 4x4 to turn it into the "ultimate mowing machine" to attack pedestrians.
The nine men, Mr Edis said, were found to have an enormous library of jihadi material as well as hundreds of phones and SIM cards. They had taken sophisticated moves to ensure that they could obtain false identification papers either to obtain funding fraudulently or in case they needed to escape the country.
They communicated with other islamic radicals in the UK, scouted out targets including Big Ben and Parliament and talked of a campaign of mail bombs.
Mohammed Chowdhury, who turns 22 tomorrow, along with fellow Londoner Shah Rahman, 29, as well as Abdul Miah, 25, and Gurukanth Desai, 30, both from Cardiff, admitted last week to intending to commit an act of terrorism by planning to plant an explosive device at the London Stock Exchange.
Three others, Nazam Hussain, 26, Usman Khan, 20, and Mohammed Shahjahan, 27, all from Stoke-on-Trent admitted to preparing acts of terrorism by attending meetings to discuss attacks as well as fund raising to support sending British men to training camps in Kashmir.
Omar Latif, 28, from Cardiff, pleaded guilty to attending meetings at which terrorist attacks were discussed while Mohibur Rahman, 27, from Stoke-on-Trent, admitted owning copies of Inspire magazine.