As long as Muslims insist that a “moderate Muslim” is an insult to their faith we better hold them collectively responsible for their radicals. After all, Islam itself is much more than ‘radical’-Â Â Islam isÂ G-E-N-O-C-I-D-A-L.
Big Ben bomb gang out in six years: Outrage as terror plotters plead guilty in turn for light sentences
- The conspiracy involved nine Muslim defendants
- They were all British, living in London, Cardiff and Stoke-on-Trent
- Al-Qaeda inspired radicals arrested FOUR days before they planned to plant bombs in London Stock Exchange toilets
A terror gang who planned a Mumbai-style bomb blitz in London could walk free in less than six years after striking an extraordinary 11th-hour plea bargain.
The four Muslim fanatics intended to unleash a Christmas campaign of atrocities with targets including the Stock Exchange, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye.
They and five others had been facing a five-month trial at Woolwich Crown Court and could have expected sentences of 20 years.
But at the 11th hour they decided to plead guilty after a judge indicated they would receive lesser sentences for admitting the plot.
The Crown wanted to avoid both the estimated Â£2.5million cost of a high-security trial and the possibility of acquittals.
So a rare so-called ‘Goodyear’ direction hearing was arranged in which defence barristers receive guidance from the judge about how long he plans to jail those accused if they admit their guilt.
In this case, Mr Justice Wilkie suggested ringleader Mohammed Chowdhury, 21, would receive no more than 13Â½ years and his 28-year-old accomplice, Shah Rahman, 12 years.
He said the case did not merit an indefinite imprisonment for public protection because their plans were not developed, and he took account of Chowdhury’s youth.
Chowdhury is likely to spend less than half of his sentence behind bars owing to time already served on remand, while Rahman can expect to be out in five years.
Following the Goodyear hearing, others who had lesser roles in the plot swiftly pleaded guilty knowing that they would attract even more lenient jail terms when they are sentenced next week.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer said a term of five or six years ‘does not seem particularly serious’ for acts of terrorism which could have killed many innocent people.
‘I am not convinced in the deterrent effect of such a sentence. These individuals have all pleaded guilty to extremely serious crimes. The point being that part of their sentence will be a deterrent to further terrorism.’
Police arrested the Al Qaeda-inspired radicals on December 20, 2010, four days before they planned to plant their first bomb in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange.
They found a handwritten list of targets which included the home of London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, two rabbis and the U.S. Embassy.
The group, inspired by one of the world’s most notorious terrorists Anwar al-Awlaki, planned to send five bombs in the post to London synagogues and the Church of Scientology headquarters and spread panic in Stoke-on-Trent by planting bombs in pub and club toilets.
But anti-terror police had bugged their homes and cars and heard discussions of a ‘Mumbai’ atrocity on the streets of Britain, mirroring the guerilla-style 2008 bombing and shootings which claimed 173 lives in the Indian city.
In a series of secret meetings, Chowdhury, of Tower Hamlets, and 28-year-old Rahman, from Newham, travelled from east London to meet other plotters from Cardiff, Omar Latif, 28, Gurukanth Desai, 30, and Abdul Miah, 25, in a country park in Wales.
There, they were met by another terror cell from Stoke-on-Trent comprising Usman Khan, 20, Mohammed Shahjahan, 27, Mohibur Rahman, 27, and Nazam Hussain, 26.
Police heard one of the bombers say: ‘The thing is we will have to cause a big explosion and blow up all the computers. This is not going to be small. It will burn the whole place down. It will happen the day before Christmas. Definitely we will do it, Inshallah (God willing).’
The plan was for the gang, wearing suits, to bluff their way into the Stock Exchange claiming to be shareholders.
In another conversation taped in a car, one said: ‘You know we have to go for a strike on a place that is world-wide remembered.’
The gang were heard laughing as they discussed buying AK47 assault rifles and sending five bombs via Royal Mail and DHL during the busy Christmas period.
At one point, brothers Miah and Desai went into a post office in Cardiff and examined Jiffy bags in which the bombs would be sent.
One was heard to say: ‘We are sending five IEDs. If one or two of them get through, good. Tick tock.’ On another occasion, one plotter said: ‘If we do three in the post then the economy will break.’
Police believe they were also planning to unleash a second wave of atrocities at Easter.
Covert recordings caught Miah and Desai praising Hitler and denying the Holocaust. A bug planted in their car recorded them talking about how the Muslims fought with Hitler in the Second World War and suggesting that not even 100,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis.
On November 28, 2010, Chowdhury and Rahman were followed as they went on a reconnaissance mission.
They were seen in Trafalgar Square and Westminster, where one held a mobile phone up and pointed at Big Ben.
Surveillance teams followed them to the South Bank as they observed the London Eye, before moving on to look at the Church of Scientology building on Queen Victoria Street near Blackfriars and ending up at McDonald’s for a meal.
Police later recorded Miah and Desai in the car, saying: ‘Five addresses. We will come here and let one go here. We will let go a bomb here.’ The group spent hours talking about making explosive devices.
Desai and Miah even carried out a dummy explosion in a residential street in Cardiff on December 10 after reading terror chief Anwar al-Awlaki’s magazine Inspire which contains an article called: ‘Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.’
Police decided to arrest them a day after Chowdhury and Shah Rahman started researching making a pipe bomb.
When officers swooped they found a car bomb sketch and an A4 handwritten target list at Chowdhury’s home. They also found hundreds of speeches and lectures by al-Awlaki.
Chowdhury, Shah Rahman, Miah and Desai admitted preparing for acts of terrorism between November 1 and December 21, 2010.
Latif admitted engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism by assisting others to commit attacks by attending operational meetings on November 7 and December 12.
Khan, Shahjahan and Hussain admitted the same charge but relating to attending operational meetings, fundraising for terrorism training, and preparing to travel abroad or assisting others to travel for terrorist training.
Mohibur Rahman admitted possessing an article for a terrorist purpose after police who scoured his home found two copies of Inspire magazine. Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Osborne said: ‘We welcome the guilty pleas entered by all nine defendants today, following what was the largest counter-terrorism operation of 2010.’
Saleem Kidwai, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Wales, said: ‘There should have been a harsher sentence to set an example to others.
‘The judge has made this decision but we feel this should not have been allowed.
‘Personally, I feel that they should have been judged according to what they did. The offences should have been judged more seriously.
‘Probably the judge thought that they are thinking of doing this and they had not actually done it. But it was a serious offence and this should have been taken into account.’
Campaign of hate whipped up on the web
That’s just BS. For journo’s to claim the internet causes Islamic terrorism is bait for the traps of government apparatchiks who want to censor the internet:
byÂ REBECCA CAMBER, JAMES TOZERÂ andÂ CLAIRE ELLICOTT
The nine-strong gang all followed a similar path, from poppy burning and militant preaching to terrorism.
All were born in Britain, save for Mohammed Chowdhury and Shah Rahman, but they shared a common hatred of the country where their parents and grandparents chose to settle after leaving Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Sources said they came from respectable families, who are ashamed of them.
Influence: Gang are thought to have drawn inspiration from hook-hnaded Abu Hamza and hate preacher Anjem Choudary
The group’s ‘linchpin’, Chowdhury, a Labour supporter and keen football fan, lived in a council home near Canary Wharf in Docklands.
Police believe he coordinated the group, who met through their membership of various hard-core Islamic groups and stayed in touch over the internet.
They chatted over the instant messaging site Paltalk, which is the world’s largest online video chat community boasting more than four million members.
Unusually in a terror plot where offenders usually keep a low profile, at least two of the gang were prominent activists who had already become renowned for their violent views and were well known to police.
The terror cell members started out by distributing extremist leaflets and DVDs outside mosques and regularly set up stalls in Cardiff and Stoke, radicalising vulnerable members of the community.
Police believe that the gang drew inspiration from hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza and followed Muslim fanatic and hate preacher Anjem Choudary, whose most recent extremist group, Muslim Against Crusades (MAC) was banned last year after its members threatened to burn poppies for a second time on Armistice Day.
At least two of the defendants were members of MAC’s predecessor, Islam4UK, a group led by Choudary which became a banned terrorist organisation in January 2010.
Some of the defendants boasted to police that they had burned poppies on Remembrance Sunday and police found footage on their mobile phones.
In Stoke-on-Trent, Mohammed Shahjahan and Usman Khan were a familiar sight handing out leaflets and haranguing passers-by.
For two years they set up a stall outside the Territorial Army centre in Cobridge.
Police raided the homes of Shahjahan and Khan, along with three others in July 2008 as part of an investigation into a group suspected promoting extremist views.
At the time, Shahjahan said: ‘We are not terrorists. We haven’t been preaching violence or whatever they say we’ve been doing.’ After a 20-month police inquiry costing Â£83,000, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for either terrorism or public order offences.
Within hours, Shahjahan, a call centre worker, was back at his stall in Burslem selling Islamic literature, CDs and DVDs and complaining to the BBC that their computers had not been returned.
He told journalists: ‘They will not stop us unless they put us in prison, after making some more new laws, or unless we die.
‘That is the only way we will stop.’
A local councillor, Amjid Wazir, remembers: ‘I reported them to the police.
‘I believe they were part of Al-Muhajiroun (another banned Islamist group run by Choudary).
‘They were not working, just claiming benefits and handing out leaflets.’
‘All were born in Britain, save for Mohammed Chowdhury and Shah Rahman, but they shared a common hatred of the country where their parents and grandparents chose to settle after leaving Pakistan and Bangladesh.’
By January 2010, Shahjahan and Khan had joined Islam4UK and they were seen at a demonstration outside a mosque in Cobridge held in support of Islam4UK’s planned march through the town of Wootton Bassett which honours repatriated British soldiers.
The protest was later abandoned after widespread condemnation.
In Wales, the three plotters, Omar Latif and brothers Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah, who lived within a few minutes of each other, also ran so-called ‘Dawah’ stalls.
Miah was well known to police and had a long and violent criminal record.
The labourer, whose wife was pregnant at the time of the plot, had convictions for possession of a prohibited weapon â€“ a CS gas canister spray â€“ possession of cannabis, intimidating a witness, false imprisonment, perverting course of justice, dishonesty and public order matters.
In 2010, police believe that the gang became increasingly radical after reading the sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed in a U.S. drone attack last September.
Al-Awlaki is said to have inspired a series of attacks and plots across the world from 11 September 2001 to the stabbing of a British MP and he became the most influential terrorist role model next to Osama Bin Laden.
He was the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) â€“ regarded as the most dangerous branch of the terror group outside Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The American-born cleric is credited with helping to recruit ‘underpants bomber’ British-based student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of attempting to blow up a flight bound for Detroit in 2009.
He is also suspected of orchestrating the ink jet printer plot in which an explosive package was sent on a cargo plane from Yemen to America via the UK in October 2010.