Nine British-Asians of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin have been jailed in the UK over an al-Qaeda-inspired plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange and to organise a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
The men,who were convicted last week,were described by the judge at the Woolwich Crown Court as ‘Islamic fundamentalists’. They hail from towns in England and Wales such as Stoke-on-Trent,Cardiff and London.
Usman Khan,20,one of the nine jailed,was involved in organising a training camp on his family land in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK),and to encourage a ‘significant’ number of British Muslims at attending it.
Justice Wilkie said this was a ‘serious,long-term venture in terrorism’ that could also have resulted in atrocities in the UK. All nine men were arrested in December 2010.
He said,It was envisaged by them and the other recruits may return to the UK as trained and experienced terrorists available to perform terrorist attacks in this country,on one possibility contemplated in the context of the return of British troops from Afghanistan.
The nine included one Bangladesh-origin man who had changed his name to ‘Gurukanth Desai’ before the arrest.
Shahjahan 27,was jailed for a minimum term of eight years and 10 months. Usman Khan and Nazam Hussain,26,were ordered to serve at least eight years. Justice Wilkie said that the three were ‘the more serious jihadis’ and said they should not be released until they were no longer a threat to the public.
Four others,who all pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism by planning to plant a bomb in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange,included: ‘Gurukanth Desai’,30,12 years; Abdul Miah,25,16 years and 10 months; Mohammed Chowdhury,22,13 years and 8 months; Shah Rahman,28,12 years.
Omar Latif,28,who admitted attending meetings with the intention of assisting others to prepare or commit acts of terrorism,was given 10 years and 4 months.
Mohibur Rahman,28,was given a five-year sentence after he admitted to possessing two editions of an al-Qaeda magazine for terrorist purposes.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne said the counter terrorism operation was ‘one of the most significant and complex’ of recent years,and involved 1,000 police officers and staff at its height.
He said,We had a network of highly dangerous men based in three cities who were working together to plan terrorist attacks in the UK. Had we not taken action to disrupt this network,their actions could have resulted in serious casualties or fatalities.