UK

Four 'planned to bomb Territorial Army base' with toy car

Zahid Iqbal, Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, Syed Farhan Hussain and Umar Arshad
Image caption Zahid Iqbal, Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, Syed Farhan Hussain and Umar Arshad were investigated by counter-terrorism police and MI5

Four British men discussed bombing a Territorial Army base in Luton by driving a toy car beneath its gate, a court has heard.

Zahid Iqbal, 31, Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, 25, Syed Farhan Hussain, 21, and Umar Arshad, 24, from Luton, pleaded guilty to terror offences in March.

They also arranged terrorism training, fundraising, and discussed the use of homemade bombs.

They will be sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court, in London, on Tuesday.

BBC home affairs correspondent Matt Prodger, who was at the hearing, reported that the four men smiled and giggled as the court was played recordings of conversations in which they discussed travelling to Pakistan for terror training, buying guns and making explosives,

Ringleader

They were also recorded talking about attaching an improvised explosive device to a toy remote-controlled car, driving it through a gap beneath the gate of the TA base, and detonating it beneath a military vehicle.

Iqbal was recorded 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."

Prosecutor Max Hill QC told the court the men were subjects of an intelligence-led joint investigation by counter-terrorism police and MI5 into the movement of individuals from the UK to Pakistan "for extremist purposes linked to al-Qaeda".

He said they had carried out physical training exercises in Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons in preparation for travelling to Pakistan - where they expected to join groups linked to al-Qaeda.

"They discussed making an improvised explosive device (IED) following instructions from an Inspire magazine which they planned to adapt," he told the court.

"They also identified a target for such an attack, namely a Territorial Army base in their locality, although they also discussed targeting multiple sites at one time."

Police raids

Iqbal was the ringleader who organised travel and training, and Ahmed was actively involved in the radicalisation and recruitment of others - organising physical training for the men and the purchase of survival equipment, the court heard.

In a recording from 15 January 2011, Iqbal said: "At least you'll get to meet the brothers and then it's up to them.

"They might even use you for something else in the meantime, cos there's lots of different other things, innit. There's people making weapons there, helping them making the bombs and stuff, other people transporting - maybe they will use you for something like that… you will be checked out and stuff."

The four men were arrested following a series of raids at their homes in Luton in April 2012.

Search warrants issued at the defendants' addresses uncovered evidence from mobile telephones and SIM cards, computers and digital media, travel documentation, passports and quantities of cash, the court heard.

A search of Iqbal's house found a hard drive containing a number of items including a copy of 44 Ways to Support Jihad, by Anwar al-Awlaki, the court heard.

A copy of Inspire magazine including articles on how to bypass airport security and avoid detection by X-ray scanning equipment, how to transport explosives in printer cartridges and how packages were shipped to Yemen in cargo planes was also found.

"This evidence supports the product of eavesdropping and surveillance in showing the radicalisation of the defendants and their commitment to engage in violent jihad - in the sense of violent terrorist attacks against the military and civilian population of western states such as the United Kingdom," Mr Hill said.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday, when mitigation for the men will be heard before they are sentenced.

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