Muslim couple guilty of anti-Jewish bomb plot

Shasta Khan and husband Mohammed Sajid Khan
Shasta Khan and husband Mohammed Sajid Khan
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A MUSLIM hairdresser and her Bradford-born husband have been convicted of planning a terror attack in the Jewish neighbourhood of Manchester.

Shasta Khan, 38, and her husband, Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, bought substances and equipment from supermarkets to assemble an improvised explosive device.

Police found a cache of terror-related material after being called to a domestic dispute at the couple’s home in Oldham, last July.

Beheading videos, propaganda glorifying Osama bin Laden and bomb-making guides were seized along with peroxide and bleach, used by Shasta Khan in her hairdressing work, which together with electrical equipment were being readied to make a bomb.

A satnav from her Peugeot 305 vehicle showed they had been on multiple trips to Jewish populated areas around Manchester, looking for targets to attack.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court found Shasta Khan guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and two counts of possessing information useful for committing or preparing for an act of terrorism. She was cleared of a third count of the latter charge.

Her husband pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism Both will be sentenced at 2pm tomorrow.

British-born Muslim Shasta Khan was convicted by a majority ruling of 11-1 on the main charge of preparing for acts of terrorism.

She cried in the dock as the verdicts were delivered and then wailed as she was led to the cells.

Opening the case four weeks ago, prosecutor Bobbie Cheema said behind their “apparent normality of daily life”, Sajid Khan, an unemployed car valeter, and his wife planned to carry out “jihad at home”.

They both became radicalised by material found on the internet such as an al Qaida magazine called Inspire, the aim of which is to encourage Muslims in the West and this country to carry out holy war or jihad by mounting attacks in their own countries independent of any outside direction or association with any other person.

In response, the pair prepared to carry out a terrorist attack on British soil, with the most likely target being an orthodox Jewish area of Prestwich.

They did not achieve the production of a functioning bomb and did not have the final ability to carry out the attack but they looked at possible locations for an attack, she said.

But Miss Cheema said the “path from radicalisation to atrocity” was broken perhaps because of “internal domestic affairs” between the couple.

They met via a Muslim dating website in July 2010 and married soon afterwards but by July of last year the relationship was suffering real problems, the jury heard.

On July 20, a “serious row” developed and the husband left home to go back to his parents’ house in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Two days later he returned but there was more trouble between the husband and wife and her family, resulting in him assaulting his father-in-law.

Police were called to the address in Foster Street but as officers dealt with the domestic dispute and with Shasta still upset and worked up, a “wholly unexpected turn of events occurred”, Miss Cheema said.

“A member of her family, one of her brothers, told the police, in Shasta Khan’s presence, ‘We have something that I think might be interesting to you, I think he’s a home-grown terrorist’,” she told the jury.

The wife then took the opportunity to “spill the beans” and cause “serious trouble” for her husband - but left out her own involvement in any terror offences.

Seemingly innocuous and innocent items found at the home had a more sinister purpose, the jury was told.

Chemicals used in Mrs Khan’s work, such as bleach, acetone and peroxide liquid, were also capable of being transformed into the ingredients of explosives along with other household items such as salt and sugar.

Ground-up fire lighters, safety goggles, a funnel, needles and syringes were also part of the paraphernalia which could be used to make a home-made bomb, the court heard.

The jury was told that one of the most significant finds was the contents of a plastic bag from the electrical shop Maplins.

Inside were electrical wires, Christmas tree lights, bulbs and a battery.

An article from an al Qaida magazine entitled Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom offered a step-by-step guide, from how to get ingredients without raising suspicion, to building a bomb, incorporating the use of Christmas lights.

In just one or two days a bomb could be made to kill “at least 10 people” and with more time “tens of people”, the article said.

The jury was told that IED ingredients listed in the guide matched the items found at the defendant’s home.

A CD showing the beheading of British hostage Ken Bigley, murdered in Iraq in 2004, was found at the address.

There were also Google searches on how to make explosives from acid and bleach.

Some of the propaganda espoused the “jihad of individual terrorism”, preaching that individuals should carry out their own attacks to “begin the jihad at home”.

Officers also found a shopping list scribbled on a Post-it note listing items to buy; sandwiched between cheese and noodles was a reminder to buy an alarm clock - a necessary item for making an IED, the court was told.

Other notes carried the words “SA26 SMG” and “7.62mm x 25mm Tokarev” - references to firearms. Another note listed addresses in the heart of Manchester’s Jewish community.

Shasta Khan told the jury she had no involvement in terrorism or any of her husband’s activities.

But she was found guilty of acquiring substances, equipment and information of use in making explosives and assembling an improvised explosive device between August 10 2010 and July 24 2011.

She was also convicted of two counts of possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism in relation to computer files.

The files were a computer document named Al-Malahim.Inspire-6.pdf, which contains instructions for the preparation of acetone peroxide, which can be used as an explosive and a document called Class Notes From The Security And Intelligence Course.

She was cleared of a possession charge in relation to a document named 39 Ways To Serve And Participate In Jihad.

The North West counter-terrorism unit will comment on the case after sentencing tomorrow.

In a statement, the Community Security Trust (CST), an organisation that works with police to help ensure the security of the UK Jewish community, said: “This trial has shown the reality of anti-Jewish terrorism in Britain today. It explains why Jewish communities take security and anti-semitism seriously.

“CST thanks Greater Manchester Police and the North West counter terrorism unit for their cooperation with both CST and our Jewish community at this difficult time. We urge the Jewish community to lead its life to the full and ask that it keeps supporting communal security efforts. In particular, suspicious activities in Jewish areas should be reported to CST and police.”