Profiles: The terror gang members

Tuesday 26 February 2008 15:00

Mohammed Hamid, 50, dedicated his life to training the terrorists of the future, masterminding an east London gang and reaching out to countless other impressionable young Muslims.

Among the graduates of his al-Qa'ida-style schooling were July 21 ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim and several other members of the failed terror cell.

Senior counter-terrorist officers said Hamid was not directly behind the botched bombings two weeks after the July 7 attacks.

But they suspect he was a key influence on those who strapped home-made bombs to their backs.

Hamid's main grooming weapon was to host anti-Western discussions at his Hackney council home. These were followed by invitations to outdoor adventures, including camping and paintballing trips, where military-style exercises took place.

Investigators said the combination of provocative rhetoric and physical routine were a potent cocktail for radicalising others.

One police source said it is unlikely officers will ever know if the targets of their planned attacks were in the UK or overseas.

He said: "There is a danger of trivialising what these people were doing. They were certainly doing paramilitary training for terrorism.

"Whether that was to be terrorism overseas or at home, I do not know. But five of the people convicted of the July 21 attacks attended these camps.

"We could not rule out the possibility that these people would go on to commit terrorism here."

A student of race-hate preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, Hamid practised his preaching at home meetings, bookshop talks and Speakers' Corner.

He went on to mix with hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza and other fanatics at Finsbury Park Mosque.

Hamid told followers he had contacts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to whom he arranged to send his best students.

But although police found a passport stamp indicating Hamid travelled to Pakistan in 2002, it is unclear if these links actually existed.

Hamid was born in October 1957 in Tanzania, east Africa, and moved to the UK with his family aged five.

Although his family were devout Muslims, when Hamid moved to London he fell in with a crowd of petty criminals and began drinking and smoking cannabis.

He became a thief, robber, burglar and crack cocaine addict. In 2001 he was even quizzed in connection with a kidnap investigation.

Hamid met his second wife in India while trying to break his drug addiction. The couple set up home in Hackney where neighbours described him as a friendly joker.

Atilla Ahmet has followed his friend Abu Hamza into the ranks of Britain's most vile extremists.

The former Sunday league football coach guaranteed his place as one of the most notorious preachers of hate by pleading guilty.

Ahmet, 43, also known as Abu Abdullah, confessed to three counts of soliciting murder.

The street preacher and Islamic convert sharpened his skills at the side of the hook-handed cleric Hamza at Finsbury Park Mosque.

When control of the north London mosque was taken away from hardcore radicals, Ahmet began preaching in the street outside.

After Hamza's arrest in May 2004, Ahmet took control of his notorious Supporters of Shariah group.

He knew his allegiance placed him in the sights of the police. Once he said to undercover officer Dawood: "The day I met Abu Hamza I was a marked man."

A secret MI5 bug planted in Mohammed Hamid's home captured Ahmet's deranged, violent rantings during regular Friday afternoon meetings.

Ahmet repeatedly boasted how his purpose in life was to sacrifice himself and that Muslims must defend themselves.

He said: "You have to fight. It is better to fight and let them kill you, than let them put you in prison."

But it was two TV interviews during which Ahmet said he loved Osama bin Laden "more than himself" that formed some of the most damning evidence against him.

Speaking in August 2006 on Sky News, Ahmet refused to condemn terrorist attacks.

Four days later on CNN, Ahmet said those killed during the September 11 attacks were a "drop in ocean" and said Tony Blair was a legitimate target.

Ahmet was so proud of his TV performances that he distributed DVDs to his friends and followers.

But he also realised the interviews had obliterated his chances of escaping prosecution and keeping his freedom.

Days later and just minutes before detectives swooped on the Bridge to China Town restaurant, Ahmet was nervous, telling the others they needed to talk before the "Feds" came and "bust up your door and start taking people away".

Dawood caught the moment a unit of armed police officers revealed themselves to shocked diners and the gang of Muslims on his hidden tape recorder.

Born in 1964 in London, Ahmet came from a Turkish-Cypriot background and owns land in the north of the Mediterranean island.

His large family are split between two south east London homes in Bromley and Hither Green.

Until the mid-1990s he worked as a football coach for several Sunday league youth sides. At that time he was known to others as Alan but was criticised by one league organiser for being too volatile.

Ahmet converted to Islam in 1998, although later claimed his real conversion occurred six years earlier when he first heard Islam preached in Arabic.

By 2006, Ahmet was a regular visitor to Hamid's Hackney home.

But when the case went to trial there was a falling out.

While giving evidence Hamid said that after their arrest he heard Ahmet crying in his Belmarsh cell.

As the trial progressed, Hamid's barrister Joel Bennathan QC hit out at Ahmet's guilty pleas which he said the jury should not believe.

He accused Ahmet of being the prosecution's new best friend and cutting a "grubby deal" because he was scared of prison.

Kader Ahmed, 20, of Plaistow, was born in Somalia in May 1987 and came to live in the UK in November 2001, just weeks after the September 11 attacks.

He went to school in Canning Town and started an electrical engineering course at Newham College.

Ahmed was known to other members of the gang, including undercover officer Dawood, as Mohammed Plaistow.

The court heard he attended several camps in Hampshire and Berkshire where he was a keen participant in group activities.

Ahmed was also a regular visitor to the Dawa stall in Oxford Street where Hamid handed out Islamic leaflets.

Ahmed was the only gang member to speak to police in interviews and try to explain himself.

He claimed the camps were harmless fun, like scout camps, and that activities included wrestling, swimming and hide and seek.

But once shown the surveillance evidence, including transcripts and photographs, he refused to comment further.

Mohammed Zakariyya Al-Figari, 44, of Tottenham, was born Roger Michael Figaro in Trinidad. Al-Figari is a trained pharmacist who converted to Islam in 2004.

He lived with his wife in Tottenham and once worked as a clerical assistant at University College Hospital, in London.

Al-Figari was accused of attending several camps in Hampshire and Berkshire in June 2006.

When police raided his home they also claimed to find a series of terrorist documents, including some on jihad and al-Qa'ida.

Kibley Da Costa, 25, of Streatham, south London, was a close associate and confidant of both Mohammed Hamid and Attila Ahmet.

Known to his friends as Abdul Khaliq, Da Costa was born in Jamaica.

The British citizen once worked as a parking attendant in Sunbury-on-Thames, in Surrey, and spent two years as a bus driver until 2005.

He faced charges of not only attending terrorist training camps, but of providing the instruction during one of the three trips to the New Forest.

Mobile phone footage seized from his home showed him being nominated to take charge by Hamid because he was suffering from a bad back.

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