Thursday, February 18, 2010

Would-be terrorists were amateurs but their plan was deadly serious, court told

Three would-be terrorists who styled themselves “The Blackburn Resistance” may have been comical in their amateurism but their plan to carry out holy war was serious, Manchester Crown Court was told yesterday.

    [Group] accused of threatening to "eliminate" Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in a posting on a jihadi website ..[+]

Abbas Iqbal, 24, his brother Ilyas, 23, and Muhammad Ali Ahmad, a white Muslim convert, were said to have been “intoxicated by the evil of terrorism” and had begun to train for the struggle ahead.

They had studied guerrilla warfare, gathered a stockpile of weapons and a library of extreme jihadist material and even filmed themselves training in a local park in preparation for a mission to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Edward Brown, QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that they were readying themselves to use violence in pursuit of ideology.

“The prosecution does not suggest that this group is a highly sophisticated, well-trained or well-funded terrorist cell,” he said. “We do suggest, however, these three young men had become intoxicated by the evil of terrorism and had started to train themselves to join or carry out violent jihad. When they were stopped by the police, they had not got very far.”

The film of the trio “larking about” in the park, and images of them firing blanks into the air in the back garden of the Iqbal family home, were found in a mobile phone storage card, it was alleged. Mr Brown said that it was discovered in the suitcase of Abbas Iqbal when he was arrested at Manchester airport in August 2008, en route to Northern Europe with another alleged extremist, who cannot be identified for legal reasons. The pair intended to “spread their creed”.

The arrests led to the detention of Ilyas Iqbal and Mr Ahmad, a part-time assistant in a chemist’s who had changed his name from Paul Cryer in 2004 to reflect his interest in Islam.

Mr Brown said: “Consistent with their interest in jihadi activity, all three defendants had developed a keen interest in weaponry and had filmed themselves engaged in military-type activity connected with their preparations for acts in pursuit of their extreme cause.

“They were also in possession of material that would help themselves and/or others to commit terrorist acts. They had gathered together the collection of weapons and other equipment for training and they had set about educating themselves about guerrilla warfare,” he added.

“They had made a film about their training programme which was designed to imitate the more professional propaganda of al-Qaeda.”

All three defendants deny preparing for acts of terrorism between April 2006 and August 2008. Abbas Iqbal also denies disseminating terrorist publications and possessing documents likely to be useful to a terrorist. Ilyas Iqbal pleaded not guilty to two counts of possessing documents likely to be useful to a terrorist.

The armoury stockpile was found at the Iqbal brothers’ home along with terror-related documents on a desktop computer, the prosecution suggested. The computer was said to have contained video clips of beheadings and executions, with much of the footage focused on information from Iraq.

There were songs about jihad and the conflict in Chechnya, and various speeches including one that stated: “I have received so many e-mails from ladies, they want to be the bombs themselves and do jihad.”

When police searched Mr Ahmad’s home in the Whalley Range area of Blackburn they discovered extreme material he had written, martyrdom videos and mobile phone images.

Mr Brown said: “Some of the material may at first blush seem almost comical in its amateurishness but when you recall their purpose, you may think it is less funny.”

The trial continues.

Would-be terrorists were amateurs but their plan was deadly serious, court told - Times Online

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