Monday 23 October 2017

Jihadist gang in 'UK 9/11' terror bomb plot, court told

Tom Whitehead London

AN al-Qa'ida-inspired gang of British Muslims planned to carry out "another 9/11" in the UK with up to eight suicide bombers, a court hasheard.

A Jihadist group from Birmingham were to target crowded areas to cause "mass death" in a terror plot that was set to be even more devastating than the 7/7 London bombings, Woolwich Crown Court was told.

Two of the alleged ringleaders had received training in Pakistan and made martyrdom videos to be released after they had "blown themselves up".

They were taught in bomb-making, how to use weapons and poisons before returning to the UK to recruit others.

They planned to detonate homemade bombs in up to eight rucksacks.

In order to raise funds, the gang organised bogus street collections in busy areas of Birmingham for the charity Muslim Aid and for an Islamic school, the court heard.

The "vast majority" of the money, more than £13,500, never reached the good causes for which it was intended .

The details emerged as the trial began of three men described by the prosecution as "the senior members of this home-grown terror cell".

Irfan Naseer (31), Irfan Khalid (27), and Ashik Ali (27), all unemployed from Birmingham, deny terror charges including planning a bombing campaign, recruiting others for terrorism and terrorism fundraising.

They were among a total of 11 men and one woman arrested by police on various terrorism charges last September.

Brian Altman, prosecuting, told the jury: "In September 2011, and after, officers of the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit arrested a number of young men from the Birmingham area, who are resident in this country.

"With it the police successfully disrupted a plan to commit an act or acts of terrorism on a scale potentially greater than the London bombings in July 2005, if it had been allowed to run its course.

"Although the finer details had not been worked out and agreed upon, the defendants were proposing to detonate up to eight rucksack bombs in a suicide attack and/or detonate bombs on timers in crowded areas in order to cause mass deaths and casualties.

"As you will hear, one of them was even to describe their plan as 'another 9/11'."

He added: "The defendants are jihadists -- influenced, in particular, but not exclusively, by the lectures and writings of Anwar Al-Awlaki, a US-born extremist of Yemeni descent, and an affiliate of al-Qa'ida on the Arabian Peninsula."

Awlaki was killed by a drone attack.

Chemistry

The three men are accused of attempting to produce home-made bombs in Ashik Ali's flat on White Street in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.

Naseer, nicknamed "Chubbs" or "Big Irfan" because of his large size, had completed a four-year pharmacy degree at Aston University.

Mr Altman said: "It was Naseer's knowledge of chemistry, together with his training in terrorism, that allowed the defendants to experiment in producing an explosive mix with a view to constructing a home-made explosive device, an IED, in the kitchen of the flat in White Street, in the days leading up to the arrest of these defendants and others."

The court heard that four other men have pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorism by travelling to Pakistan last year for terrorist training.

Ashik Ali's estranged wife, Salma Kabal, who is accused of knowing of her husband's terrorist intentions but failing to disclose them to the authorities, will be tried at a later date.

The trial continues. (©Daily Telegraph London)

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