Anti-EDL bomb plot 'a reaction to calculated insults'

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

Six men who planned a terror attack on an English Defence League rally were reacting to "calculated insults" made by the group, a court has heard.

Omar Khan, Jewel Uddin, Mohammed Hasseen, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed and Anzal Hussain, all from the West Midlands, admit terrorism offences.

The lawyer for Khan said EDL rallies were held in largely Muslim areas and were "intimidating" and "provocative".

Five of the men took a bomb, knives and sawn-off shotguns to the rally.

The plotters arrived after the EDL event - held last June in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire - had ended.

They were caught by chance after their car was stopped and found to have no insurance.

'Great state of fear'

Joel Bennathan QC told the court the men's plan was a "reaction to the activity of the EDL".

He said: "The EDL stage rallies in what they perceive, rightly, to be areas with large Muslim populations. They are intimidating when they do so.

"They are obviously and very deliberately insulting to any Muslims. One doesn't need a degree in theology to have spotted the fact that to a Muslim a personal insult to the Prophet Mohammed is a very serious matter.

"They are intimidating, they are insulting and they are provocative."

Image caption The Dewsbury EDL rally finished early because of a lack of speakers

As mitigation began in the sentencing of the six men, Judge Nicholas Hilliard was given a disc containing video clips of EDL members claiming that the prophet Mohammed was a paedophile and chanting about burning down mosques.

Mr Bennathan said the plot was "young British men reacting to the calculated insults of other young British men".

Danny Friedman for Hasseen said the men had worked themselves up into "a very great state of fear" in the run-up to the rally, which, he argued, was not "completely irrational".

"Young men reach to ideology to explain away fear and loathing about their communities being attacked and that's what we submit happened here," he added.

Police who searched the men's car after it was stopped found it contained weapons, an 18in nail bomb and a partially-assembled pipe bomb. The men had also printed a leaflet 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.

'Ideologically committed'

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 five men stopped in the car on the way back from the rally were Uddin, 27, Khan, 28, Ahmed, 22, Saud, 22, and Hussain, 24. Hasseen, 23 was not present.

But prosecutors described Hasseen as the most "ideologically committed" of the group. He was found to have 859 files containing extreme material.

The men have already been warned to expect to spend a significant time in jail.

Sentencing has been delayed until Monday.

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