Muslim pair linked to Bradford ‘planned anti-Jewish jihad at home’

Leeds United's police dispute has reached the high court.
Leeds United's police dispute has reached the high court.
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A MUSLIM couple with links to Bradford were assembling components of a home-made bomb to attack Jewish neighbourhoods after becoming radicalised by al Qaida propaganda on the internet, a court heard.

Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, and his wife Shasta, 38, bought substances and equipment from supermarkets to assemble an improvised explosive device to carry out a terrorist attack after scoping Jewish targets, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Behind their “apparent normality of daily life”, Khan, an unemployed car valeter from a Bradford family, and his hairdresser wife planned to carry out “jihad at home”, Bobbie Cheema, prosecuting, told the court.

And the pair were only “mercifully” stopped by chance after a minor domestic row, in which the husband left home to go back to his parents’ house in Bradford, led to police being called.

Mrs Khan decided to “spill the beans” to police after her brother told officers called to the row “I think he’s a home-grown terrorist”.

Mohammed Sajid Khan has already pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to terrorism offences but his wife has denied any involvement.

She has pleaded not guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and three counts of possessing information useful for committing or preparing for an act of terrorism.

Opening the case for the prosecution at the start of Shasta Khan’s trial, Miss Cheema told the jury: “The essence of what is alleged in this case is relatively straightforward.

“It is that in 2010 and 2011 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 violent holy war or jihad by mounting attacks in their own countries independent of any outside direction or association with any other person.

“They became radicalised by the teaching of extremist Islamists who were themselves motivated by al Qaida.

“In response, the two of them they began to make preparations or assisted each other to make preparations to carry out a terrorist attack on British soil, with the most likely target being an orthodox Jewish area of Prestwich in Greater Manchester.”

Miss Cheema continued: “Perhaps it can be summarised this way - it was jihad at home.

“Between them they acquired substances, common or garden that can be purchased in supermarkets, equipment and information of use that would help them to make explosives and began the process of assembling an improvised explosive device.”

The couple also carried out “multiple reconnaissance” trips of Jewish areas of Salford or Manchester, it was alleged.

“Mercifully they were both stopped and arrested before they could go any further and finalise and carry out their plans,” the prosecutor said.

Miss Cheema told the jury that, “behind the apparent normality of daily life”, the couple believed in and supported an extreme ideology of jihad or holy war against the enemies of Islam - especially Jewish people.

The couple were both UK citizens, living in this country and subject to our laws, Miss Cheema said, but however strongly someone may object to British foreign policy it would amount to a criminal offence to act as they did.

“This couple were caught at the stage of preparation,” Miss Cheema said.

“They did not achieve the production of a functioning bomb, they scoped possible locations for an attack but did not yet have the final ability to carry it out.”

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.

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

Police were called to their marital home in Foster Street, Oldham, 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’.”

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

Miss Cheema said Shasta Khan, in her “emotional state”, may have given no thought to the consequences for herself of talking to police, believing officers would believe the “dutiful wife who had pointed the finger at the home-grown terrorist”.

But as soon as the terror allegation was made, a major police operation began - which uncovered evidence incriminating Shasta Khan as also being allegedly involved in terrorist activities, the jury heard.

Shasta Khan is charged with 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 is also charged with three counts of possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism in relation to three computer files.

The three files are: firstly, 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; secondly, a document called Class Notes From The Security And Intelligence Course; and thirdly, a document named 39 Ways To Serve And Participate In Jihad.

She denies all charges.

The trial, expected to last up to four weeks, continues today.