Chef insists he has no connection to plotters

War on Terrorism: Charges
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A chef who has been accused of offering weapons training on a website aimed at young British Muslims insisted yesterday he was innocent of any connection with terrorism.

Sulayman Balal Zain-ul-Abidin, 43, who works in the kitchens of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London, was arrested on Monday by Scotland Yard anti-terrorism officers.

The swoop followed newspaper reports about the alleged activities of a company owned by the food worker, Sakina Security Services, based at his London home.

Mr Zain-ul-Abidin, from Greenwich, south-east London, sat impassive as he appeared amid intense media interest and tight security at the nearby Belmarsh magistrates' court. He is accused under the 2000 Terrorism Act of providing training in the making or use of "firearms, explosives, or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons", on or before 1 October this year

A second count alleges that he invited people to undergo instruction in the same types of weapons, through the Sakina Security Services website.

Mr Zain-ul-Abidin, the first person in Britain to face a terrorism charge since the 11 September attacks, spoke yesterday only to say he understood the charges, saying to the court clerk: "Yes, ma'am." But his lawyer, Tyrone Smith, said his client, who appeared in court wearing a white T-shirt and dark trousers, was a family man of good character who denied any involvement in training terrorist fighters.

Mr Smith said afterwards: "He [Mr Zain-ul-Abidin] does not accept these allegations and will contest them in due course." There was no application for bail.

Mr Zain-ul-Abidin will appear again at the Belmarsh court next Friday.