Terror court latest: Plotter planned to use benefits to fund terror training
Usman Khan, 20, was secretly recorded talking about plans to recruit UK radicals to attend the camp in Kashmir, London’s Woolwich Crown Court was told.
He said there were only three possible outcomes for him and his fellow jihadists: victory, martyrdom or prison.
Khan’s home in Persia Walk, Stoke-on-Trent, was bugged as he discussed plans for the firearms training camp, which was to be disguised as a legitimate “madrassa”, an Islamic religious school, the court heard.
Discussing terrorist fundraising, he said that Muslims in Britain could earn in a day what people in Kashmir, a disputed region divided between Pakistan and India, are paid in a month.
He went on: “On jobseeker’s allowance we can earn that, never mind working for that.”
During the late-night meeting on December 4, 2010, Khan contrasted the action he was planning in support of jihad with the passive approach of Muslims like radical cleric Anjem Choudary.
“Brothers like Anjem, they ain’t going nowhere,” he said.
Khan said he could only see three results: “There’s victory, what we hope for, there’s shahada (death as a martyr), or there’s prison.”
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, opening the case for the Crown on day two of a sentencing hearing, said: “Mr Khan, the prosecution say, reveals his intention to supply money and people to something which he describes in this as an existing set-up.
“He has recently returned from Pakistan, and the inference is he’s been there, and is going back there within a few weeks.
“That set-up from the outside will appear like a normal madrassa, but the inference is clear from that conversation that that’s indeed the place where firearms training will be available.”
He added: “It is also quite clear that the hope is that there will be a significant number of UK citizens who will attend there.”
Mr Edis said those who underwent training at the camp in Kashmir could have returned home and carried out attacks in Britain.
“When running a training camp of this kind, the prosecution say, they create a risk that they themselves or other graduates of it will commit acts of terrorism wherever they find themselves to be, using the skills they have acquired,” he told the court.
Khan, Mohammed Shahjahan 27, and Nazam Hussain, 26, all from Stoke-on-Trent, last week admitted engaging in the preparation of terrorism.
Mohammed Chowdhury, 21, and Shah Rahman, 28, both from east London, and brothers Gurukanth Desai, 30, and Abdul Miah, 25, from Cardiff, pleaded guilty to preparing for acts of terrorism by planning to plant a bomb in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange.
Omar Latif, 28, also from Cardiff, admitted attending meetings with the intention of assisting others to prepare or commit acts of terrorism, and Mohibur Rahman, 27, from Stoke-on-Trent, admitted possessing copies of al Qaida magazine Inspire for terrorist purposes.
Miah was bugged as he spoke to Chowdhury on December 4 2010, using football as a code for their terrorist plans and referring to the Stoke members of the fundamentalist group as “guests”.
He said: “We will be able to play football, proper match, tournament, without guests… We don’t need any outsiders in the tournament.”
Mr Edis told the court: “There was a distinction between the nine members of the group. The four who were party to the discussion about an attack in the UK appeared to have been working on the basis they didn’t need outsiders in that project.”
Miah also spoke of using VAT fraud to get “proper money” for their plans and compared the group’s projects to the September 11 2001 attacks in the US.
“That (9/11) was a very big thing. Ours is nothing compared to theirs… They took many years starting to get ready, so this is a small thing,” he said.
Some London and Cardiff members of the group discussed launching a “Mumbai-style” atrocity, while the Stoke extremists talked about setting off pipe bombs in the toilets of two pubs in their home town, the court heard.
A hand-written target list found on a desk at Chowdhury’s house listed the names and addresses of the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, London Mayor Boris Johnson, two rabbis, the American Embassy in London and the London Stock Exchange.
Chowdhury, described as the “lynchpin” of the group, spoke at a meeting on December 12 2010 of original plans to attack the Houses of Parliament or the London Eye in “the Mumbai style”, the court heard.
But Mr Edis noted: “There is no evidence at all that this group had the physical capability to carry out a Mumbai-style attack.”
Internet browsing history showed that Chowdhury used Google Street View to examine the area around the London Stock Exchange at street level, the hearing was told.
On another occasion the extremists discussed raising money for their terrorist plots through insurance fraud by pretending they had suffered injuries in a car accident.
Miah was bugged saying: “Whiplash for the sake of Allah, innit.”
Christopher Blaxland QC, mitigating for Chowdhury, said his client became mixed up in Islamist extremism through his involvement in Anjem Choudary’s groups.
He said Bangladesh-born Chowdhury, who has a bad stammer and underwent an operation for thyroid cancer in 2006, attended “headline-catching, deliberately provocative” demonstrations, including one on Remembrance Day where poppies were burned.
Mr Blaxland told the court: “He had immersed himself in the jihadi rhetoric of the Choudary group, and he had taken it into dangerous territory, where he should never have gone.
“Ultimately the likelihood that he would have actually done something is frankly extremely remote.”
The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, indicated that he expects to pass sentence on Thursday. The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.