LONDON (Reuters) – Five men charged over the creation of suspected terrorist training camps went on trial in London on Wednesday and the court was told a sixth man, their leader, had already admitted soliciting murder.
Atilla Ahmet, 43, the so-called emir of the group, pleaded guilty to three counts of encouraging others to commit murder in a separate hearing last month that media were barred from reporting until the start of Wednesday’s trial.
Prosecutor David Farrell told the high-security Woolwich Crown Court that Tanzanian-born defendant Mohammed Hamid, along with Ahmet, had recruited, groomed and corrupted young Muslims.
Hamid, 50, is accused of preparing Muslim men for jihad, or holy war, by organising terrorism training disguised as camping or paintballing trips in places such as the scenic New Forest and the Lake District.
“His purpose was to convert such men to his own fanatical and extreme beliefs … enabling them to move on to join others in the pursuit of jihad by acts of terrorism,” Farrell said.
Among those to attend were men convicted of attempting to bomb the London transport system on July 21, 2005, two weeks after four Islamist militants killed 52 people in almost identical suicide attacks.
The July 21 plan failed because of mistakes in the construction of the bombs.
The court was told that Hamid had been arrested in October 2004 at his stall at Oxford Street shopping area at the same time as Muktah Said Ibrahim, the ringleader of the July 21 conspiracy.
Hamid told the police when arrested that he was “Osama bin London” and claimed to have a bomb.
The jury were also played a secret recording of Hamid discussing the deadly July 7 London bombings with Ahmet, and apparently making light of the number of victims.
“Fifty-two, that’s not even breakfast for me,” Hamid was heard to say while Farrell said he had also praised the attackers who carried out the September 11, 2001 U.S. attacks.
In other transcripts of the meetings read to the court, Farrell said Ahmet had discussed giving TV interviews in which he had been referred to as al Qaeda’s number one in Europe.
“So they are basically depicting me as … you know one of the biggest terrorists in, in not only the UK but in the whole of Europe,” Ahmet was reported as saying.
Asked if it was “halal” (lawful) to kill non-believers, Farrell said Ahmet replied: “the big people, the MPs, the police, the army, the solicitors .. are all halal.”
Four other men are also on trial over the alleged training camps, the first people to face charges using legislation brought in last year.
Mousa Brown, 41, is accused of giving and receiving weapons training, while Mohammed Al Figari, 43, Kibley Da Costa, 24, and Kader Ahmed, 20, are charged with attending terrorist training camps. Da Costa is also charged with providing terrorism training.
Figari is also accused of possessing documents likely to be of use to a terrorist, including the “Al Qaeda manual” and “How I can train myself for Jihad”.