British Islamists jailed for plotting terror
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Last Updated: Friday, February 10, 2012, 00:01
London: A British court on Thursday jailed nine Islamists inspired by slain al Qaeda lynchpin Anwar al-Awlaqi for planning terror attacks on targets including the London Stock Exchange.

The nine men, who are all British nationals of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin, had pleaded guilty to a variety of terror-related offences at a hearing a week ago at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London.

Judge Alan Wilkie sentenced three of the men to "imprisonment for public protection" -- an indeterminate jail term for suspects regarded as dangerous -- while the other sentences ranged from 16 years to five years.

Wilkie said they were "fundamentalist Islamists who have turned to violent terrorism in direct response to material, both propagandist and instructive, issued on the Internet by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

Awlaqi, the US-born leader of AQAP, was killed on September 30 in an air strike in Yemen.

Wilkie added that it was a "difficult and complex sentencing" that "gives rise to a number of issues of principle and has a high profile".

Prosecutors said the men belonged to a group of fundamentalists who planned a spate of mail bomb attacks during the run-up to Christmas 2010 and discussed launching a "Mumbai-style" atrocity.

Four of the men -- Mohammed Chowdhury, 21, and Shah Rahman, 28, from London and brothers Gurukanth Desai, 30, and Abdul Miah 25, from Cardiff -- admitted preparing for acts of terrorism by planning to plant an improvised explosive device (IED) in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange.

Miah was jailed for 16 years and 10 months, Chowdhury for 13 years eight months, Rahman and Desai for 12 years each.

Three others, Mohammed Shahjahan, 27, Usman Khan, 20, and Nazam Hussain, 26, all from Stoke in central England, received indeterminate sentences with a minimum of eight years for making longer-term plans which included taking part in "terrorist training" in Pakistan.

Another man, Omar Latif, 28, from Cardiff, admitted preparing for acts of terrorism but was not involved in the specific plots and was jailed for 10 years four months.

Mohibur Rahman, 27, from Stoke, admitted possessing a copy of Inspire, an Internet magazine produced by AQAP, and was jailed for five years.

The Crown Prosecution Service said after the hearing that the men were "not members of Al Qaeda but they were clearly influenced" by Awlaqi.

"What they had in common was that they all held extreme fundamentalist religious beliefs and were committed to converting those beliefs into terrorist action," CPS counter-terrorism lawyer Piers Arnold said.

During the case, prosecutors said police found a handwritten target list at the home of one of the men that included the Stock Exchange, the US embassy in London, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and two rabbis.

They also talked about travelling to a militant training camp in Pakistani Kashmir.

The group, who met due to their membership of various extremist Islamic groups, had originally challenged the charges against them and were due to stand trial, but at the 11th hour they changed their pleas to guilty.


First Published: Friday, February 10, 2012, 00:01

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