London: A "very dangerous" Pakistan-born
former Taliban fighter was on Friday given four life sentences
after he was found guilty of trying to recruit undercover
officers for jihad and fight British soldiers in Afghanistan.
Munir Farooqi, 54, a Pakistani-born British citizen was
at the centre of a plot to radicalise and persuade young men
to "fight, kill and die" in a jihad in Afghanistan.
He and his accomplices were captured in a police sting
when two undercover anti-terrorism police officers infiltrated
Farooqi was given four life sentences and told he must
serve a minimum of nine years before he can be considered for
parole. He had been convicted of preparing for acts of
terrorism, three counts of soliciting to murder and one count
of dissemination of terrorist publications, following a four-
month trial at the Manchester Crown Court.
His accomplice, Matthew Newton, 29, was found guilty of
the same charges.
23-year-old Israr Malik, another accomplice, was convicted
of two counts of soliciting to murder.
Malik of Fallowfield, Manchester, was also found guilty of
preparing for acts of terrorism.
Newton was sentenced to six years, to serve a minimum of
three years. Malik was given an indeterminate sentence and
will be considered for parole in five years, the judge said.
The three men had denied all charges, the BBC reported.
A fourth defendant, Harris Farooqi, was acquitted.
Passing sentence, Justice Richard Henriques said: "You are
in my judgment a very dangerous man, an extremist, a
fundamentalist with a determination to fight abroad."
Farooqi had used his experiences fighting with the
Taliban as a "tool of recruitment" to run the "Manchester
recruitment centre" from Islamic bookstalls in the city.
His operation was "sophisticated, ruthless and well
honed," the judge said.
"You found the images of coffins draped in American flags
as a source of great amusement. As residents of this country
you owe allegiance to the Crown, that appears to have escaped
Farooqi`s group used `dawah` stalls in Longsight and
Manchester city centre to target vulnerable men and after
converting them to the faith, radicalised them using terrorist
literature, CDs and DVDs, the Guardian reported.
Two undercover officers spent more than a year
infiltrating the group and gaining the trust of Farooqi, who
had been previously jailed in Afghanistan after fighting
alongside the Taliban in 2001, the report said.