THREE prisoners demanded the release of Abu Qatada as they held a guard hostage in a North Yorkshire prison, a court heard today.
The alleged incident took place days after the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, at a time when relationships between prison staff and Muslim inmates were said to be “strained”.
Feroz Khan, 26, David Watson, 27, and Fuad Awale, 26, are on trial accused of the false imprisonment of Richard Thompson while they were all at HMP Full Sutton near York, on May 26 last year.
Khan and Awale are also accused of threatening to kill the officer, and Khan is charged with causing grievous bodily harm to him, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm on a second officer Rachel Oxtoby.
Judge Michael Topolski QC told the pool of 51 potential jurors that a prison officer was captured and held hostage for several hours.
“During that time threats were made to kill the prison officer,” he said.
He added: “Some of them were armed.”
The judge said “demands were made for the release of Abu Qatada”, and for these demands to be broadcast by the media.
He said there were notes, amongst other things, “expressing frustration with western foreign policy” towards Muslim countries.
Judge Topolski QC told Woolwich Crown Court that these events “took place just days after the murder” of Fusilier Rigby.
Ms Sally Howes, QC, prosecuting, said: “This was not a spur of the moment opportunist incident.”
She said it was “carefully thought out, fully prepared and well planned”.
The alleged incident took place in an area which is seen as a “flashpoint for trouble” by prison staff, as there is a “steady flow of inmates”.
Ms Howes QC also pointed out the alleged incident took place in the same week Fusilier Rigby was murdered.
“Relationships between prison staff and some of the Muslim inmates became strained,” she said.
Ms Howes told the jury about how one particular prison officer took a great interest in the Muslim inmates, taking time to talk to them and hear their point of view.
She said each inmate is assigned to an individual prison officer, and Khan was assigned to this officer.
On the Friday following the murder of Fusilier Rigby, Khan and two other inmates allegedly walked out of prayers after the imam offered condolences to the Rigby family.
Speaking later to the prison officer about this he is alleged to have explained why such things, such as the murder of Fusilier Rigby, happened.
Ms Howes said Khan told him: “George W Bush started the war on terror, but it wasn’t two countries fighting each other. It was an invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
He is alleged to have said: “Muslims are fighting back.”
Ms Howes said Khan told the officer: “And that’s why people are getting killed.”
The court heard he said that the fight will continue until Sharia law is established in every country.
Khan said there are three types of people - Muslims, non-believers and hypocrites, the jury heard.
Hypocrites are Muslims who do not pray, watch porn and listen to loud music, he is alleged to have said.
The prison officer’s view was that Khan was “very knowledgeable” on the history of the Muslim world, and was aware that there was tension involving him in the prison.
The court heard the prison officer was sure Khan was “up to something”.
Staff in the prison noticed that Khan was holding “hushed meetings”, the prosecution said.
The court heard Ms Oxtoby said there were “problems and difficulties” from the moment inmates were unlocked.
The prosecution said Ms Oxtoby explained that there was a feeling amongst the prison staff that “no Muslims were going to take us hostage”.
Ms Howes said this suggested that there was “a heightened sense of anxiety” at that time.