Public duped into donating over £12,000 to fund suspected terror attack planned on Britain

 

Members of the public were duped into donating thousands of pounds to fund a massive suicide terror attack planned for Britain, a court heard today.

Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, both 27, were among a group of men who posed as collectors from the Muslim Aid (MA) charity, complete with T-shirts and hi-vis tabards, to carry out street collections and door-to-door pleas for cash in Birmingham and Leicester last year, their trial at Woolwich Crown Court heard.

But the charity received just a fraction of the Ramadan collection cash in August last year, with the vast majority being kept to finance the plot, the jury was told.

Notes found by police suggested that they collected £12,100 but the court was told they also lost £9,149.39 from their gains by using it to trade in foreign currency over four weeks.

The court previously heard that the men, two of whom are alleged to have received terror training in Pakistan, planned to detonate a series of suicide bombs in an attack that could have been bigger than the July 7 2005 atrocities.

Today the jury heard that Ali registered two accounts on eBay's online charity website "half in jest" in September 2006 with the user names "terrorshop" and "shopterror", using the email address be-terroryahoo.co.uk.

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said that one of the accounts was closed down by eBay in October 2006.

"The second account remains active, but, like the first, has never been used," he said.

"However, both reveal his mindset even then, even if the usernames he chose were registered half in jest."

He said the men wore MA T-shirts and tabards to "beguile the public into believing this was legitimate charity collecting, when it wasn't".

"That money was stolen and ... was not intended by the defendants to be used for any other legitimate purpose other than terrorism," he said.

Mr Altman said the collections took place soon after Naseer and Khalid returned from terror training in the Taliban and al Qaida stronghold of Waziristan in Pakistan at the end of July last year.

The charity had a licence for a single day's collecting, and it received £1,584 from the group at the end of August, the court heard, a fairly typical amount for a day's collection.

In reality, the prosecution claimed, they illegally collected cash over a sustained period, posing as Muslim Aid volunteers without its knowledge.

They donated £900 to the Madrasah-e-Ashraful Uloom school in Bordesley Green, Birmingham, and kept the rest.

All the men are accused of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, which they deny.

Naseer is accused of five counts of the offence, Khalid four and Ali three, all between Christmas Day 2010 and September 19 last year.

For Naseer, from Sparkhill, Khalid, from Sparkbrook, and Ali, from Balsall Heath, all in Birmingham, this is alleged to have included planning a bombing campaign, collecting money for terrorism and recruiting others for terrorism.

Naseer and Khalid are also accused of travelling to Pakistan for training in terrorism, and it is alleged that Naseer also helped others to travel to the country for the same purpose.

The men talked about when they planned to carry out their suicide attack while discussing their car's MOT, the court heard.

They were recorded talking about the VW Passat needing its new certificate in June or July this year, when Khalid said "we're dead by then", adding "we're probably out of here by next June, brother".

The covert recordings made by police after the men returned from Pakistan also included fears that other members of their group had phoned relatives or friends in the UK from the Asian country and spoken about why they were going over there, the prosecution claims.

In the conversation, recorded in a car, the men talk about being imprisoned for what they have done if it got out, under the "2005 Act" - an inaccurate reference, the prosecution claimed, to the Terrorism Act 2006.

"It confirms that they knew full well what had been done was criminal," Mr Altman added.

A little later, the court heard, one of the men's associates "light-heartedly" said he cannot drive the car because he has angina. Naseer, who was described as the group's "amir" (leader) replied: "(I) don't want to be Shaheed (a martyr) yet yeah."

The three men on trial are accused of being "central figures" in the alleged extremist plot, over which 11 men of Pakistani and Bangladesh origin and a woman were arrested.

It is claimed that another four of the men were sent to Pakistan to receive terrorist training - Naweed Ali, 25, and Ishaaq Hussain, Khobaib Hussain and Shahid Khan, all 20.

Prosecutors say that Mohammed Rizwan, 33, and Bahader Ali, 29, were "wavering" about whether to get involved in the plot or to go to fight with jihadis abroad.

Ahmed was allegedly used as the group's financier, and it is claimed that Mujahid Hussain, 21, was involved in fundraising.

The court heard that Ahmed posed as a self-employed sales account manager with a £99,000 annual salary to set up a foreign exchange trading account with Forex Capital Markets Limited.

It was funded by seven payments totalling £14,550 from an account containing charity collection money but he made big losses, the court heard.

The men talked about putting sharp blades on the front of a truck and "running" into people, the court heard.

Recorded speaking on September 10, they discussed an idea for a weapon that had been published in an outlawed extremist online magazine called Inspire under the headline "The Ultimate Mowing Machine".

It was an article the prosecution said the defendants were clearly aware of.

Naseer said: "So Ashik, it feel like I've been driving a monster truck, you know."

Khalid said: "Yeah and do what AQ (al Qaida) said, put that blades at the front of it and trample on everyone."

He continued later: "Just drive it into people in (a) crowded area."

The men also discussed what would happen to their bodies after they had been martyred in a suicide attack, the court heard.

In what the prosecution called a "very telling exchange", they discussed where they would be buried in Birmingham while being watched by surveillance officers driving through the Small Heath area of Birmingham on September 11 last year.

Khalid said: ""Nah, I'm just thinking... most likely it'll be Handsworth (cemetery), if there's a body left."

Naseer replied: "One thing, one thing, remember, once that once you done, it doesn't matter where you get buried, innit."

Mr Altman said: "The exchange puts beyond doubt that they were planning a suicide attack."

Khalid and Naseer also talked about people "getting killed" in their local area and how no one would come there any more because it would be a "little war zone", the court heard.

Khalid was recorded saying: "This earth here ain't ever be the same, how these people think that, all everyone's gonna be merry merry kuffar are gonna come and eat and drink here, it's not gonna happen, because after we've done, Insha'Allah, yeah, after later on, yeah."

He added: "These people are gonna be getting killed and that here, there's gonna be little war zone, yeah."

In another conversation he described Westerners as evil, saying: "All I'm saying is look how much hatred they have for Islam.

"That does make you go mad."

The men were recorded taking a large flatscreen television to their flat, on which to watch violent videos.

They were also heard boasting that they had been contacted by a potential "investor" who they hoped might give them up to £10,000.

A Dawah charity shop was going to be used as a cover to recruit more people to their cause and they planned to set up charity stalls selling cakes and perfume in Coventry, Leicester and Walsall.

Naseer was recorded talking about the September 11 al Qaida bombers and how they increased their iman (faith) by "doing 10 (chapters of the Koran) a day", while talking to an associate.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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