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The Counter-Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) - cases concluded in 2007

Included in the list below is a brief summary of the cases which have been concluded in 2007. It should be noted that, as a general rule, a defendant is entitled to a one third discount on his sentence if he pleads guilty at the earliest opportunity, with a sliding scale for guilty pleas which are entered later than that. If a defendant is found guilty after trial, the Court can consider the maximum tariff to be available, subject to any personal mitigation that may be submitted on the defendant's behalf. Where a life sentence has been imposed, the tariff shown as the minimum sentence is the time to be served before parole can be considered. Some life sentences are shown as indefinite in which case it is for the Parole Board to monitor the defendant's progress towards a time when he can be considered for release.

"The Fertiliser Plot"

All 7 defendants in this case; Omar Khyam, Anthony Garcia, Nabeel Hussain, Jawad Akbar, Waheed Mahmood, Shujah-Ud-Din Mahmood and Salahuddin Amin, were jointly charged with conspiring together and with others, to cause, by an explosive substance, an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property, contrary to section 3(1)(a) of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 Khyam, Hussain and Garcia were also charged with possessing, between 5th November 2003 and 31st March 2004, 600 kgs of ammonium nitrate fertiliser in circumstances which gave rise to a reasonable suspicion that their possession was for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism, contrary to section 57(1) & (4) of the Terrorism Act 2000. Khyam and Shujah-Ud-Din Mahmood were additionally charged under the same provisions with possessing a quantity of aluminium powder.

The prosecution's case was that each of the defendants was party to an agreement that a significant explosion be caused in the UK. Various targets were discussed such as the Bluewater Shopping Centre, the Ministry of Sound nightclub and other targets across the UK including gas and electricity supplies. The aim was to cause death, injury and damage for religious and political purposes. The explosion was to be carried out by means of an improvised explosive device (bomb), the main ingredient of which was ammonium nitrate fertiliser. The plan was formulated after Amin attended training in Pakistan in 2003 in the construction and use of such weapons. In pursuance of the plot the defendants purchased 600 kgs of ammonium nitrate fertiliser and Khyam, Garcia and Hussain arranged its storage. Khyam and Shujah-Ud-Din Mahmood acquired and stored a quantity of aluminium powder, the necessary fuel for the detonation of the fertiliser. Amin's assistance was sought with the information on ratios of materials necessary to achieve a successful detonation. Mohammed Khawaja, a Canadian resident, was to provide a remotely operated detonation system which relied on radio transmission. Waheed Mahmood, by Jawad Akbar, provided valuable intelligence on the potential targets.

All the defendants except Amin were arrested in March 2004 following a lengthy police surveillance which led to the discovery of the half tonne of chemical fertiliser in storage in West London. Amin was arrested on 8 February 2005 when he arrived at Heathrow Airport on an inbound flight from Pakistan. Prior to his arrest he was detained in Pakistan for about 10 months, where Amin alleged he was tortured and ill- treated. The trial was the longest and most expensive criminal case in Britain at the time, lasting more than a year. The main prosecution witness in the case was Mohammed Babar, a Pakistan-born American who had admitted to terrorism-related offences in New York and to being a co-conspirator in this case. He said he was the men's accomplice and had helped get materials to make the bombs.

On 30 April 2007, after 27 days of jury deliberations, five out of the seven defendants, Khyam, Garcia, Amin, Waheed Mahmood and Akbar, were convicted with conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life. The two remaining defendants, Shujah-Ud-Din Mahmood and Hussain, were found not guilty on the same charge. Khyam and Garcia were also found guilty of possessing 600 kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser for terrorism but Hussain was found not guilty of this offence. Khyam was also found guilty of possession of aluminium powder for terrorism whilst Shujah-Ud-Din Mahmood was found not guilty of this charge.

On the main charge each defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with Khyam, Waheed Mahmood and Garcia to serve a minimum of 20 years and Amin and Akbar to serve at least 17.5 years imprisonment.

In July 2008 all 5 defendants appealed against their convictions. There were several grounds for their appeal.

  • One of the grounds was based on varied criticisms of the trial judge's summing up of the evidence and warnings to the jury in relation to all of the defendants' cases.
  • Another ground was that the President of the Queen's Bench Division and the trial judge should recuse themselves (stand down) and the court should be reconstituted as a result of some observations made by the trial judge to the President and, in the context of Amin, on the basis that the trial judge failed to conduct a preliminary stage of the trial (the public interest immunity application) in a fair and balanced way, which Amin contended amounted to an abuse of process.
  • Another ground of appeal was that all 5 defendants contended they had reasonable basis for suspecting that their privileged (confidential) conferences with their legal advisers that took place while they were remanded in custody at HMP Belmarsh may have been subject to "bugging" and so a possible abuse of process.
  • The next ground of appeal related to Amin only, who contended that his arrest and detention in Pakistan, the torture and ill-treatment he allegedly suffered at the hands of Pakistani security officers and the complicity by the UK authorities in that abuse, and his subsequent return to this country constituted an abuse of executive power by the authorities in Pakistan and the UK and accordingly any trial would amount to an abuse of process of the court undermining the rule of law itself.

The three Court of Appeal judges rejected all grounds of appeal against convictions including the ones highlighted above.

All defendants also appealed against their sentences on the grounds that the recommended minimum term in each case was excessive. The appeals against sentence were refused except for those of Garcia and Amin, whose minimum sentences were reduced. Garcia's minimum term of 20 years was reduced to 17.5 years and Amin saw his minimum term reduced from 17.5 years to 16 years and 9 months

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Barot and Others

The ringleader in this case, Dhiren Barot, a former Hindu who had converted to Islam, had prepared meticulous plans for Al Qaeda figures on a series of synchronised terrorist attacks in the UK and in the US. Some of these plans pre-dated the 9/11 attacks. Barot's plans came to light after a laptop computer was seized during a raid on a house in Pakistan in July 2004. Barot and others were arrested the following month on 3 August 2004 and a search of other premises revealed details of 4 different types of terrorist attacks planned for the UK.

The main UK plot was "The Gas Limos Project" which proposed packing 3 stretch limousines with propane gas cylinders and explosives, detonating these in an underground car park with casualties estimated at hundreds of the building collapses. There were also 3 subsidiary plots which were to be launched simultaneously and were designed to cause, at the very least, complete social disruption through fear, panic, terror and chaos. These plots included a dirty bomb, an attack on trains, the hijacking of a petrol tanker to be rammed into a target and a bomb under the River Thames to flood the Tube network and potentially drown hundreds of commuters. In one of Barot's documents he had written his primary objective was to "inflict mass damage and chaos".

Barot also planned to strike a number of US financial institutions however following the events of 9/11 these plans were shelved in favour of the UK plots.

Barot's co-conspirators (Jalil, Feroze, Tarmohamed, Bhatti, Ul Haq, Rehman and Shaffi) provided him with the support he needed to operate in the shadows, enabling him to produce the terrorist plans. This included providing him with accommodation, false identities, storage, computers, minders and drivers.

Barot pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder in December 2006 and received a life sentence with a minimum of 30 years imprisonment, reduced from a minimum term of 40 years after appeal. Six of the other defendants pleaded to conspiracy to cause explosions and in April 2007 received sentences as follows:

Jalil – 26 years imprisonment;

Feroze – 22 years imprisonment;

Tarmohamed and Bhatti – 20 years imprisonment;

Ul Haq – 18 years imprisonment;

Rehman – 15 years imprisonment.

The remaining defendant, Shaffi, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder but was convicted after trial and was sentenced in June 2007 to 15 year's imprisonment.

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The attempted bombings of 21/7

On 21 July 2005, 4 explosions occurred on the public transport system in central London, causing parts of the underground system to be brought to a halt, with widespread alarm to members of the public. A 5th device was found abandoned on Wormwood Scrubs. The trials which ensued involved those who actually conspired to carry out the bombings and those who, to a greater or lesser extent, assisted, either by withholding information about the events and those responsible, or by actually assisting the main offenders to escape arrest. The sentences awarded reflected the involvement of each defendant.

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Ibrahim and others

4 men, Muktar Ibrahim, Yassin Omar, Hussain Osman and Ramzi Mohammed were convicted after a 6 month trial of conspiracy to murder for trying to blow up underground trains and a bus. Ibrahim, the ringleader of the cell, had travelled to Pakistan in December 2004 to learn how to make bombs using hair bleach and had attended the same training camp as Shahzad Tanweer, one of the July 7 bombers. Mr Justice Fulford QC, the sentencing judge, said that although the 2 cells were separate, he had no doubt that they operated in parallel and that their attacks were inspired and controlled by Al Qaeda. He said "the evidence leads me to the firm conclusion that these were not truly isolated events...they were to an extent co-ordinated and connected in that I have no doubt they were both part of an al-Qa'ida controlled sequence of incidents." The court heard that each of the defendants could have been in no doubt of the outcome of their attack, which would probably have succeeded if the concentration of the chemicals in the devices had been slightly altered.

On 11 July 2006 each of the 4 defendants received a life sentence, to serve a minimum of 40 years imprisonment.

Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, who was the 5th bomber who abandoned his device, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause explosions and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 33 years.

Adel Yahya, who was responsible for purchasing some of the hydrogen peroxide used to make the bombs pleaded guilty to possession of terrorist material and was sentenced to 6 years and 9 months imprisonment.

There were then three further trials for groups of defendants who had assisted the bombers:

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Sherif and Others

This trial concerned 5 men who had assisted Osman, Mohammed and Ibrahim. They were charged with assisting an offender and also with failing to give information (which is an offence contrary to S38B Terrorism Act 2000)

All five were convicted following trial and received the following sentences; Whabi Mohammed 13 years imprisonment (reduced on appeal from 17 years imprisonment); Abdul Sharif 6 years 9 months (reduced on appeal from 10 years imprisonment), Abdulrahman 5 years (reduced on appeal from 10 years imprisonment), Sirah Ali 9 years (reduced on appeal from 12 years imprisonment) and Muhedin Ali, 4 years 9 months (reduced on appeal from 7 years imprisonment).

The Court of Appeal made some interesting comments in relation to sentences for this sort of offending. R v Sherif and others [2008] EWCA Crim 2653.

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Yeshiemebet Girma, Esayas Grima Mulumebet Girma, Mohammed Kabashi, Omer Almagboul and Shadi Abdelgadir

This trial dealt with those who had assisted Hussein Osman in the immediate aftermath of the attempted bombings in London on 21 July 2005.They were charged with assisting an offender and also with failing to give information.

Kabashi pleaded guilty on 18 February 2008.

There was then a trial involving the 5 others. All members of the Girma family convicted and Almagboul and Abdelgadir were acquiited.

Yeshi Girma (Hussain Osman's wife) received a total of 15 years imprisonmen; 5 years for having information prior to the bombings but failing to tell the police, 5 years consecutive for having information after the bombings and failing to tell the police and a further 5 years consecutive for assisting Osman avoid arrest. (5 years is the maximum sentence possible for failing to give information-S38B Terrorism Act 2000_

Mulu Girma and Essayas Girma each received a total of10 years; 5 years for failing to give information and 5 years consecutive for assisting Osman avoid arrest.

Kabashi received a total of 9 years imprisonment; 4.5 years for failing to give information and 4.5 years consecutive for assisting Osman (a small discount for his guilty plea before the start of trial)

They appealed their sentences and the Court of Appeal followed the guidelines set out in R v Sherif and others (above) and reduced their sentences as follows:

Yeshi Girma:5 years for failing to give information before the bombings, 5 years concurrent for failing to give information after the bombings and 6 years 9 months consecutive for assisting Osman, a total of 11 years 9 months.

Esayas and Mulu Girma: 5 years for each offence but concurrent rather than consecutive, making a total of 10 years.

Kabashi: 4.5 years for each offence but concurrent rather than consecutive making a total of 4.5 years.

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Fardosa Abdullahi

Fardosa Abdullahi was formally engaged to Yassin Omar at the time of the events on 21/7. She pleaded guilty to assisting an offender, namely Yassin Omar, essentially by providing him with items enabling him to disguise himself as a woman and thus to evade immediate detection. She was sentenced to 3 years on 11 July 2008, which was upheld on appeal.

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Tsouli, Mughal and Al-Daour

All 3 defendants were charged with inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism wholly or partly outside the UK contrary to Section 59(1) Terrorism Act 2000. The men had together used false identities and purchased websites using stolen identities and credit card details and then published extremist propaganda and recruiting material produced by al Qaeda in Iraq. The material they published was crafted to incite and recruit suicide bombers. It accessed international and hidden forums and websites and included graphic and emotive media, such as video footage of the murder of coalition forces, police, officials and civilians, together with footage of the beheading of hostages.

Al-Daour was also charged with conspiracy to defraud banks, credit card companies and charge card companies.

In July 2007, some two months into the trial, during which time some detailed evidence had already been presented to the jury, all 3 defendants changed their pleas to guilty. They were the first to be convicted in the UK of offences under section 59(1) and received the following sentences; Tsouli 10 years' imprisonment, Mughal 7.5 years' imprisonment and Al-Daour 6.5 years' imprisonment and a concurrent sentence of 3.5 years imprisonment for the conspiracy to defraud offence.

The prosecution has a right to appeal certain sentences which it considers to be unduly lenient (i.e. not just lenient but outside the range of sentences that would be expected for such a case). The sentences in this case were appealed by the Crown and the appeals were successful in that the Court of Appeal agreed that the sentences were unduly lenient. Consequently the sentences were increased as follows; Tsouli to 16 years imprisonment, Mughal to 12 years imprisonment and Al-Daour to 10 years imprisonment plus 2 years consecutive for the conspiracy to defraud offence, making his sentence a total of 12 years imprisonment.

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Altimimi and Abdullah

Omar Altimimi arrived in the UK from The Netherlands in 2004. He was arrested in Bolton in 2006 on suspicion of money laundering when he tried to withdraw £3000 believed to have been stolen from the Yemen Tourist Promotion Board. Several weeks after his arrest his home was searched and 2 computers were seized, which were found to contain files relating to an organisational chart for a terror cell, instructions on making explosives, bombing strategies and details of "suitable targets" and downloaded video footage of executions. He had created 3 different identities for himself and was found by the trial judge to be "a sleeper for some sort of terrorist organisation".

He was indicted on 6 counts of possessing documents for the purposes of terrorism contrary to section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and 2 offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. After a 4 week trial he was convicted on all counts. He was sentenced in July 2007 to a total of 9 years imprisonment for the section 57 counts and 3 years imprisonment concurrent for the Proceeds of Crime offences.

Yusuf Abdullah who was also arrested in Bolton at the same time as Altimimi pleaded guilty to one count of acquiring criminal property under section 329 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, namely $54,000 (£27,213). He was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

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Kamoka, Bourouag and Abusalama

All 3 defendants were arrested in Worcestershire on 5 December 2005 and charged with providing more than £20,000 a year and false passports to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), whose aim is to overthrow Libya's leader Colonel Gaddafi, by force if necessary, and replace him with a fundamentalist Islamic ruler.

When their homes were searched police found numerous references to terrorist activity, including photos of hostages being beheaded. These findings contradicted the defendants' initial claims that they thought their money and documents were being used to support humanitarian causes.

The 3 defendants pleaded guilty to an offence of entering into or being concerned in an arrangement to make property available to another, contrary to section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

After an 8 year starting point, Kamoka received a total sentence of 3 years and 9 months after discounts for his guilty plea and a previous related detention in 2002/2004. After a starting point of 6 years, Bourouag and Abusalama received 2.5 years' imprisonment after a discount for a custodial sentence they both served in 2004 in respect of forgery and counterfeiting offences relating to a "passport factory" found in Abusalama's home.

The judge noted that all 3 defendants had taken refuge in this country and he recommended that they be deported at the end of their sentences.

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Al Bashir Al Faqih

The defendant, a Libyan expatriate, arrived in the UK in September 2002 using false documents and claiming political asylum. In October 2003 he was granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK. In October 2005 police searched his home and found documents showing an interest in jihad, martyrdom and similar acts. There was also a blank application form for a training camp in Afghanistan.

He was arrested in March 2006 and charged with 2 counts of possessing computer documents likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, namely (1) a special training course on the manufacture of explosives for the Righteous Fighting Group until God's will is established and (2) an untitled document had written in Arabic which was a photocopy of a blueprint on how to form a terrorist cell.

He pleaded guilty to both offences and was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment for count 1 and a concurrent sentence of 18 months imprisonment on count 2. No deportation order was made.

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Yassim Nassari

The defendant, his wife, Bouchra El Hor and their baby were stopped at Luton Airport in May 2006 having returned from trips to Syria and Holland. He was found in possession of a laptop on which was stored a book entitled "Verdict regarding the permissibility of martyrdom operations". Also stored on the laptop were other instructional documents including a treatise on mines, shells and explosive missiles as demolition devices and a blueprint of how to construct the Qassam artillery rocket, a home-made steel rocket used by terrorist groups in the Middle East. Police also found several graphic videos of terrorist attacks and beheadings at Nassari's home.

He pleaded not guilty to an offence of possessing an article useful to a terrorist contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, namely the instructions on how to make a Qassam rocket. He was convicted after trial and on 17 July 2007 was sentenced to 3.5 years imprisonment.

The defendant's wife, who it was alleged had written a letter that appeared to encourage her husband to become a terrorist martyr, (an allegation she denied), was found not guilty of failing to disclose information about terrorism.

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Abdul Patel

The defendant, who was 17 years of age at the time, was arrested at his wife's family home in August 2006. In his wife's former bedroom the police found two boxes containing an explosives manual detailing the construction of home-made improvised explosive devices (bombs). The manual was originally written for US experts and contained diagrams and drawings as well as bomb recipes involving ordinary chemicals and products such as fertiliser.

He pleaded not guilty to an offence of possessing an article useful to a terrorist contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and was convicted on 26 September 2007, then aged 18 years. He was sentenced to 8 months youth detention for the section 58 offence but a short time later on the same day the sentence was reduced to 6 months youth detention with the defendant serving 3 months in custody, following on from the defence's argument that the sentence should have been shorter under youth legislation.

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Rizwan Ditta

The defendant was arrested in January 2007 following an investigation by the police. His home was searched and a computer hard drive containing extremist Islamic material including a video on how to make a bomb vest was found in his bedroom wardrobe. He pleaded guilty to 2 counts of possessing records likely to be useful to terrorists contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and on 17 December 2007 was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.

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Abdul Rahman

Rahman originally faced an indictment containing 3 counts. Count 1 alleged preparation of terrorist acts contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. Count 2 alleged possession of an article for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism, contrary to section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Count 3 alleged dissemination of a terrorist publication, contrary to section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

The case had been listed for trial. On 20 November 2007 HH Goldstone QC was invited, pursuant to the principles in R v Goodyear 2005 1 WLR 2532, to give an indication of the maximum sentence he would pass if the appellant pleaded guilty to counts 1 and 3 and to an additional count of aiding and abetting contravention of the obligations of a control order, contrary to section 8 of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 and section 9(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

The facts in relation to count 1 were that the defendant had prepared a postal package containing combat knives, mobile phones, batteries and chargers which he intended to send to Pakistan to be used by others for a purpose connected to terrorism. The facts for count 3 related to a letter sent to the defendant which was found in his bedroom. It was from a friend who had gone to Pakistan and references included the writer's participation in fighting, the need for assistance to combat air power and reference to his own terrorist training. There were instructions to disseminate the information in the letter to 6 named people. Finally the facts in relation to count 4, the aiding and abetting offence, were that the defendant provided a person subject to a control order with accommodation at an address contrary to that specified on the control order and gave him funds to enable him to obtain an air ticket and leave the jurisdiction the day after the control order had been served on him.

The judge was provided with an agreed basis of plea and on 21 November 2007 the judge stated that the maximum sentence which would follow pleas of guilty was 6 years in total. The appellant then pleaded guilty to all counts. He was sentenced concurrently as follows: Count 1, 6 years imprisonment, count 3, 6 years imprisonment and count 4 (by then added to the indictment), 3 years imprisonment. The maximum sentences for these offences are respectively 15, 7 and 5 years imprisonment.

On appeal the Court of Appeal in June 2008 decided to reduce the concurrent sentences for counts 1 and 3 to 5.5 years for each count.

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