Anti-EDL bomb could have sparked 'spiral of terror'

Omar Khan, Zohaib Ahmed, Jewel Uddin, Mohammed Saud, Mohammed Hasseen,  Anzal Hussain    (clockwise from top left) Guilty: Omar Khan, Zohaib Ahmed, Jewel Uddin, Mohammed Saud, Mohammed Hasseen and Anzal Hussain, (clockwise from top left)

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Six men who planned a terror attack on an English Defence League rally could have sparked a "spiral of violence and terror", a court has heard.

The plot failed when the men arrived at the event last June two hours too late.

Omar Mohammed Khan, Mohammed Hasseen, Anzal Hussain, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed and Jewel Uddin, all from the West Midlands, were in court at the start of a two-day sentencing hearing.

They have already been warned to expect "significant" time in jail.

Five of the six would-be attackers were caught by chance when traffic police stopped their uninsured car - after they had turned back to head home because the EDL rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire had finished early.

Police vans believed to be carrying the six men The six plotters arrived at the Old Bailey amid heavy security

Police who later searched the car found it contained weapons, an 18in nail bomb and a partially-assembled pipe bomb. The men had also printed a leaflet described in court as "chilling" which called the Queen a "female devil" and outlined their motivation for the attack.

The message said they planned to kill EDL members in retaliation for their "blasphemy", although in pre-sentence statements the men said they intended only to cause minor injuries and frighten them.

The Old Bailey heard the planned attack could have had repercussions for community relations that would have been still reverberating today.

Had it gone ahead it would have been "bound to draw a response in revenge from its target and those who sympathise with the EDL", prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC told the court, adding it "would most likely led to a tit-for-tat spiral of violence and terror".

Police and security services had no intelligence about the planned attack, although one of the plotters, Jewel Uddin, was under surveillance in relation to another terror plan.

He was an associate of another group of Birmingham-based Islamists who were jailed after planning their own terror attack.

Uddin was under partial counter-terrorism surveillance and, five days before the aborted EDL attack, was seen by a surveillance officer with fellow plotter Omar Khan buying some of the knives eventually found in the car boot.

A second member of the group, Ahmed, had been separately charged with possession of jihadist magazines that included bomb-making instructions. He was on bail at the time of the failed bombing.

The EDL rally in Dewsbury, June 2012 The Dewsbury EDL rally finished early because of a lack of speakers

Five of the men were from Birmingham - Uddin, 27, Khan, 28, Ahmed, 22, Hasseen, 23 and Hussain, 24. One, Saud, 22, was from nearby Smethwick.

Prosecutors said Hasseen, who was not in the car on the day the other men were stopped, was the most "ideologically committed" of the group.

He was found to have 859 files containing extreme material.

The Old Bailey heard that the men met the day before the botched attack at an Islamic fitness centre in Birmingham where Hussain worked and five of the six were members.

Graffiti

There was a large police presence outside court as around 40 EDL supporters gathered for the start of the sentencing.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson, who claimed he was the target of the attack, briefly appeared in the public gallery with deputy Kevin Carroll before leaving to join other supporters in a nearby pub, BBC correspondent Dominic Casciani said.

The sentencing comes as police investigate the destruction of a Somali community centre in north London which was daubed with graffiti saying "EDL" and destroyed by fire.

Counter-terrorism police are investigating the blaze which follows a reported rise in attacks against Muslims since the killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last month.

The EDL have held a series of protests since Drummer Rigby's death, including one near his barracks on the night he was killed.

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