Islamist radicals planned to use benefits to fund terror training

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AN extremist inspired by al-Qaida called on British Muslims to claim benefits to raise funds for a terrorist training camp, a court has been told.

Usman Khan, 20, was secretly recorded talking about plans to recruit UK radicals to attend the camp in Kashmir, London’s Woolwich Crown Court heard yesterday.

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.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, opening the case 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.

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.

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 city, the court heard.

Chowdhury, described as the “linchpin” 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.”

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 the likelihood that Chowdhury “would have actually done something is frankly extremely remote”.

The hearing was adjourned until today when judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, expects to pass sentence.