Secret recordings in Welsh parks revealed terrorist plot to blow up London Stock Exchange
It is only now, following the guilty pleas entered by brothers Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Malik Miah, both of Riverside, that details of how anti-terror police foiled their plan to blow up the London Stock Exchange can be reported in full.
When the pair appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court following their arrests in a series of pre-dawn raids on December 21, 2010, details emerged about the covert police operation.
The hearing heard how counter terrorism police had observed the terror cell for several weeks prior to their arrests – intently gathering enough evidence to present to the courts.
The court heard how the extremist gang had been seen by undercover police gathering for operational meetings in Cardiff’s Roath Park along with a site in East London in November and in Cwmcarn Country Park earlier that month. It also heard the terror network the pair belonged to had been monitored communicating through the internet and through mobile phones.
At the meeting in Roath Park on November 7, officers overheard one of the gang talk about bombs before saying: “If you don’t attack them, they are going to attack you. You know we have got to go for a place that is worldwide remembered.”
During the second meeting in London, Desai and Miah were spotted meeting with the cell’s “lynchpin” Mohammed Chowdhury and his accomplice Shah Rahman.
A conversation between the quartet in which they made reference to pipe bombs and potential targets such as Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye was secretly recorded by anti-terror police.
Officers also overheard one of the men say: “If we have different areas we will have five fuse bombs.”
Subsequent raids of the terror plotters’ homes led police to discover two editions of the al Qaida magazine Inspire – which included recipes of how to make a pipe bomb – and a document entitled “39 ways to serve and participate in jihad”. The court hearing also heard that later, on December 10, officers watched Miah come out of Desai’s house on Albert Street before burning what is thought to be implicating documents.
During the third meeting observed by police – in Cwmcarn Country Park – the gang were heard mentioning the words “big explosion” while talking about the London Stock Exchange.
The Cardiff duo – who along with Omar Sharif Latif, of Neville Street, who also pleaded guilty to terrorism offences yesterday – were seized by police from their homes in a series of raids on December 21, 2010.
Witnesses described how dozens of unarmed officers stormed properties in Ely, Grangetown and Riverside dressed in what looked like chemical suits.
The raids were described by one resident at the time as “something straight out of the movies”.
Seven other men, aged 17 to 28, were also arrested in co-ordinated raids in London, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham.
Lord Carlile, who observed part of the surveillance operation, said at the time a “significant” terror plot being planned in four cities had been successfully stopped.
In the aftermath of the raids Cardiff’s Muslim community reacted with horror and spoke out against the extremist views expressed by their neighbours. It emerged the men arrested in the city had previously been rejected by the mainstream Muslim community because of their behaviour.
Sources told the Echo the suspects had not played an active role in the religious community as their views were unpopular with most people. A month after the Westminster Magistrates’ Court hearing, in January 2011, the men appeared via video link from Belmarsh prison at the Old Bailey. All wore traditional Islamic dress.
Members of the English Defence League packed the public gallery during the hearing as extra police were recruited to ensure the hearing went smoothly.
Earlier, the right-wing organisation had demonstrated outside the central London court saying they objected to the “Islamification of Britain”.