Trial of alleged terrorists starts

By Chris Willmott Wednesday 24 October 2012 Updated: 29/11 10:43

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Buy photos » Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali are accused of plotting a bombing campaign which could have been bigger than the 7/7 London attacks.

THREE MEN accused of plotting a bombing campaign which could have been bigger than the 7/7 London attacks have gone on trial.

Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, and Ashik Ali, both aged 27, planned to set off up to eight explosive devices in crowded areas and posed as bogus charity collectors to raise money to fund their plans, a Woolwich Crown Court has heard.

Naseer, from Doris Road, Sparkhill, and Khalid, from Timbers Way, Sparkbrook, are also charged with attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and Nasser with assisting four younger men to travel to Pakistan for the same purpose.

All three are accused of trying to recruit others from the same city to join the plot which one described as being "another 9-11".

The men appeared before Woolwich Crown Court in a trial scheduled to last for eight to ten weeks. They deny engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts.

Opening for the prosecution, Mr Brian Altman QC, described how the three were "central figures" in a case that included 11 men and one woman from Birmingham who were all charged with a variety of terrorism offences. Six have already pleaded guilty with three others due to stand trial early next year.

"The defendants were proposing to detonate up to eight rucksack bombs in a suicide attack and/or detonate bombs on timers in crowded areas in order to cause mass deaths and casualties," said Mr Altman.

"The scale," he added, "(was) probably greater than the London bombings of 2005," had police not disrupted the plot.

The defendants were said to have been influenced by al Qaeda and the Yemini-based extremist preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki who was killed by a US drone attack shortly after the men's arrest in September last year.

Mr Altman said pharmacy graduate Naseer and former security officer Khalid both unemployed at the time of their arrests - had spent two separate periods at terrorist training camps in Pakistan between March 2009 and July 2011. There they learned how to use weapons and poisons and make improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, with the intention of using their knowledge in the UK.

The court was also told that the pair had made martyrdom videos to be released by their camp colleagues in Pakistan after they had carried out suicide attacks or been killed.

This would most likely be as a result of placing bombs in rucksacks some with timers for co-ordinated explosions.

The two are accused of sharing their bomb-making knowledge with Ali, an unemployed former charity worker from Sparkbrook, shortly after they returned from their second training trip in July 2011.

The jury of six men and six women heard the trio then set about recruiting others to help them carry out an attack.

Over the weekend of September 16, 17 and 18 of 2011, Naseer, Khalid and Ali began experimenting with chemicals to make homemade explosives at Ali's one-bed council flat in White Street.

However, the alleged 'plotters' had been under close surveillance by police and the Security Service and it was at this point officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit moved in to arrest them and put an end to their activities.

The trial continues.

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