Tuesday, 27 November 2012

'I'm not a suicide bomber...I was just bragging' alleged terrorist ringleader tells court

An alleged ringleader of a group planning a suicide bomb plot insisted today he only pretended to be preparing an attack.

Irfan Naseer, 31, told the trial at Woolwich Crown Crown he was "bragging" when he was secretly recorded by police talking about making bombs.

He said this was a reaction to being threatened following suspicions in his community in Birmingham that he was an agent for ISI, the Pakistani secret service.

Naseer said his false claims were part of a scam against others alleged to be involved in the plot.

He told the jury he tried to persuade them to invest in a shop which they thought was for making bombs, when he actually planned to go abroad with their cash.

Naseer, along with Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, both 27, are on trial accused of being central figures in an alleged extremist plot.

Jonathan Whitfield QC, defending, described Naseer as a "big fellow", and the defendant told the jury he weighed 23 stone.

Mr Whitfield questioned him about his time in Pakistan, where he is accused of training in terrorism in 2009 and 2010.

He asked: "Were you running up and down the mountains with weapons?"

Naseer replied: "No, I wasn't."

Mr Whitfield went on: "The Crown say because you couldn't do it they stuck you in the school and taught you how to make bombs."

Naseer said: "That isn't true."

All three defendants are accused of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, which they deny.

Naseer is accused of five counts of the offence, Khalid four and Ali three, all between Christmas Day 2010 and September 19, 2011.

For Naseer, from Sparkhill, Khalid, from Sparkbrook, and Ali, from Balsall Heath, all in Birmingham, this is alleged to have included planning a bombing campaign, collecting money for terrorism and recruiting others for terrorism.

Naseer and Khalid are also accused of travelling to Pakistan for training in terrorism, and it is alleged that Naseer also helped others to travel to the country for the same purpose.

While in Pakistan, prosecutors claim Naseer and Khalid received training in how to use weapons and how to make bombs and poisons, and made suicide videos while they were there.

After they returned to Britain it is claimed the group then began trying to make home-made bombs, using a flat in Sparkbrook as their base.

The group are also accused of making bogus charity collections in Birmingham for Muslim Aid as well as a local Muslim centre.

The trial continues.

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