Four Luton residents who, amongst other things, considered using a toy car to deliver a homemade bomb have been jailed for a total of more than 30 years.
“Brits” Zahid Iqbal, Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, Umar Arshad and Syed Farhan Hussain are said to have considered bombing a number of targets, including a Territorial Army base.
Iqbal and Ahmed, said to be the ringleaders, were given extended terms of 16 years and three months.
Meanwhile Arshad was jailed for six years and nine months and Hussain was handed down a term of five years and three months.
Mr Justice Wilkie QC said, in sentencing, that Iqbal and Ahmed posed a continuing risk to the public.
The judge added: “In each of their cases, their persistent commitment to terrorist activity, in a number of different ways, over a significant period of time and, in each case, their willingness to take practical steps to obtain terrorist training abroad, marks them out as particularly dangerous.
“This, coupled with the fact that, after their houses had been searched, and they were obviously under serious suspicion, they nonetheless continued to access material consistent with the mindset which informed their previous preparatory activities, persuades me that they continue to be “dangerous” to such a degree that I should exercise my discretion to pass an extended sentence.”
The “British” terrorists were arrested in April 2012 and subsequently pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court to engaging in preparation for acts of terrorism.
During the trial the court were told how Iqbal, Ahmed, Hussain and Arshad had arranged terrorism training in Pakistan, debated obtaining weapons and how to best fund their criminal activities – unaware that their conversations were being secretly recorded by the security services.
In one of recordings played to the court, Iqbal, the group’s leader, was heard telling Ahmed: “I was looking and drove past like the TA centre, Marsh Road. At the bottom of their gate there’s quite a big gap. If you had a little toy car it drives underneath one of their vehicles or something.”
Whilst another recording was being played, in which the gang discussed how to make a homemade bomb, the men are said to have smiled and giggled in the dock.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command commented: “The actions and intentions of these men starkly demonstrate what we have repeatedly said – that terrorists live among us while they carry out their plans, doing all they can to conceal their activities” – not too difficult in the formerly English town of Luton we would have thought.
The gangs legal aid lawyers, in mitigation, claimed that although the men had pleaded guilty, they did not pose an imminent threat to people in this country – not an opinion shared by either the judge or jury evidently.
The cost of the trial and subsequent long years of imprisonment will cost the taxpayer many £ millions it is estimated – quite how that “enriches” either this country in general or its taxpayers in particular has yet to be revealed.