Terror recruitment heads imprisoned

Date: 07 Mar 2008


Terror recruitment heads imprisoned 
Mohammed Hamid has been jailed indefinitely
Related stories:
Terror recruitment heads imprisoned 
Ringleaders of terrorists' gang 
By Chris Greenwood, PA

The two ringleaders of a British al Qaida-style terrorist recruitment and training cell have been jailed.

Mohammed Hamid and Atilla Ahmet groomed impressionable young Muslim men to fight jihad against non-believers.

Hamid, 50, who organised brain-washing talks at his home in east London and training camps around the UK, was jailed indefinitely with a minimum term of seven-and-a-half years.

Ahmet, 44, the self-styled "emir" of the gang and a former senior aide of Abu Hamza, was jailed for six years and 11 months at Woolwich Crown Court.

Trial judge Mr Justice Pitchers told Hamid that he will continue to be a danger to the public because of his ability to persuade others to commit terrorism.

A jury heard how street preacher Hamid aspired to send his recruits on to further training in Afghanistan or east Africa.

He was found guilty of organising terrorist training in the New Forest and at a Berkshire paintballing centre as well as soliciting murder.

Ahmet, 44, admitted three counts of soliciting murder at the start of the four-month trial.

He was secretly recorded encouraging other young Muslim men to kill in the name of Islam.

The jury heard that several of the July 21 failed bombers, including ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim, were among Hamid's followers.

Hamid boasted that the July 7 attacks were "not even breakfast for me" and hours afterwards sent a text message to his friend, July 21 conspirator Hussain Osman.

He organised camping and paintballing at sites in the Lake District, New Forest, Berkshire, Kent and East Sussex.

These were combined with incendiary weekly talks at Hamid's east London council home where he sowed the seeds of hate among his followers.

Detectives pored over hundreds of hours of recordings after MI5 planted a bug at Hamid's home in late 2005. Later a police agent also infiltrated the group.

Ahmet was a regular visitor to the Friday evening meetings at Hamid's home and often led the bigoted discussions.

He honed his rhetorical skills at the side of Abu Hamza at Finsbury Park Mosque, even taking control of his notorious Supporters of Shariah group in 2004.

It was during these conversations that the pair encouraged others to murder those who do not implement the "law of Allah".

During one chilling conversation at a camp in East Sussex, Hamid was confronted by Ahmet, who realised the police net was closing in and was considering becoming a suicide bomber.

Hamid counselled his friend that he should die only after using his "intelligence" and first murder as many others as possible.

After asking how many people died in London on July 7, Hamid replied in a low whisper: "52. That's not even breakfast for me.

"That's not even breakfast for me in this country, do you understand me?

"Now, at the same time, how I look at it, I would take my breakfast and still be with my children and my wife and I'll be looking after them. Remember Jack the Ripper."

It was during this camp that Ahmet was caught on tape singing an inflammatory song to the tune of the calypso-style Banana Boat song.

The lyrics included: "Come mister Taliban, come implement Sharia... Come bomb England, before the daylight come."

Hamid once boasted to police that his name was Osama bin London and claimed to have a bomb after he was arrested with Ibrahim in Oxford Street in 2004.

On another occasion, while driving past Paddington Green police station, he screamed out: "Here is your terrorist. I'm here, come and get me."

One senior police source said officers will never know whether Hamid and Ahmet intended their followers to attack targets in the UK or overseas.

He said: "They were certainly doing paramilitary training for terrorism. Whether that was to be terrorism overseas or at home, I do not know.

"But five of the people convicted of the July 21 attacks attended these camps. We could not rule out the possibility that these people would go on to commit terrorism here."

Five of their followers were jailed for up to four years 11 months last month.

Kibley da Costa, 25, Mohammed Al-Figari, 45, and Kader Ahmed, 20, were found guilty of attending terrorist training camps.

Two other members of the gang, Mohammed Kyriacou, 19, and Yassin Mutegombwa, 23, admitted attending the camps after a separate hearing.

Hamid, of Almack Road, Hackney, east London, was found guilty of providing terrorist training in the New Forest in April 2006.

Hamid, a former shopkeeper and drug addict, was also found guilty of providing terrorist training in the New Forest and at a Berkshire paintballing centre in June 2006.

Hamid was found guilty of three counts of soliciting murder during conversations at his home and during a camping expedition to an Islamic school in East Sussex.

Ahmet, who has homes in Bromley and Hither Green, south east London, admitted three counts of soliciting murder.

The judge said Ahmet's love of the limelight would be "laughable" if the views he expressed were not so unpleasant.

He said any genuine terrorist would steer well clear of him because of the amount of attention he brought on himself.

The judge said any thoughtful Islamic listener would realise that Ahmet had very little knowledge of the Koran.

He said the preacher was also unlikely to get involved directly in any terrorist acts because it would involve physical hardship.

He highlighted how Ahmet hardly attended any of the outdoor trips organised by Hamid, which often included camping and exercise.

He said Ahmet was unsophisticated but so were the young men who attended the Hackney meetings.

He said: "Your ability to influence the unsophisticated can hardly survive what everybody now knows of you."

Ringleaders of terrorists' gang 
Attila Ahmet was radicalised after attending Finsbury Park mosque
Related stories:
Terror recruitment heads imprisoned 
Ringleaders of terrorists' gang 
By Chris Greenwood, PA Crime Correspondent

Mohammed Hamid and Atilla Ahmet were the ringleaders of an east London gang of terrorists.

Street preacher Hamid aspired to send his pupils on to further training in Afghanistan and was recorded boasting about his murderous ambitions.

Ahmet, a senior aide to Abu Hamza during his notorious reign at Finsbury Park mosque, used inflammatory speeches to incite young Muslim men to murder.

Here are profiles of the two men:

Mohammed Hamid, 50, dedicated his life to training the terrorists of the future, masterminding an east London gang and reaching out to countless other impressionable young Muslims.

Among the graduates of his al Qaida-style schooling were July 21 ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim and several other members of the failed terror cell.

Senior counter-terrorist officers said Hamid was not directly behind the botched bombings two weeks after the July 7 attacks.

But they suspect he was a key influence on those who strapped home-made bombs to their backs.

Hamid's main grooming weapon was to host anti-Western discussions at his Hackney council home.

These were followed by invitations to outdoor adventures, including camping and paintballing trips, where military-style exercises took place.

Investigators said the combination of provocative rhetoric and physical routine were a potent cocktail for radicalising others.

One police source said it was unlikely officers would ever know if the targets of their planned attacks were in the UK or overseas.

He said: "There is a danger of trivialising what these people were doing. They were certainly doing paramilitary training for terrorism.

"Whether that was to be terrorism overseas or at home, I do not know. But five of the people convicted of the July 21 attacks attended these camps.

"We could not rule out the possibility that these people would go on to commit terrorism here."

A student of race-hate preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, Hamid practised his preaching at home meetings, bookshop talks and Speakers' Corner.

He went on to mix with hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza and other fanatics at Finsbury Park Mosque.

Hamid told followers he had contacts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to whom he arranged to send his best students.

But although police found a passport stamp indicating Hamid travelled to Pakistan in 2002, it is unclear if these links actually existed.

Hamid was born in October 1957 in Tanzania, east Africa, and moved to the UK with his family aged five.

Although his family were devout Muslims, when Hamid moved to London he fell in with a crowd of petty criminals and began drinking and smoking cannabis.

He became a thief, robber, burglar and crack cocaine addict. In 2001 he was even questioned in connection with a kidnap investigation.

Hamid met his second wife in India while trying to break his drug addiction. The couple set up home in Hackney where neighbours described him as a friendly joker.

Atilla Ahmet has followed his friend Abu Hamza into the ranks of Britain's most vile extremists.

The former Sunday league football coach guaranteed his place as one of the most notorious preachers of hate by pleading guilty.

Ahmet, 43, also known as Abu Abdullah, confessed to three counts of soliciting murder.

The street preacher and Islamic convert sharpened his skills at the side of the hook-handed cleric Hamza at Finsbury Park Mosque.

When control of the north London mosque was taken away from hardcore radicals, Ahmet began preaching in the street outside.

After Hamza's arrest in May 2004, Ahmet took control of his notorious Supporters of Shariah group.

He knew his allegiance placed him in the sights of the police. Once he said to an undercover officer codenamed Dawood: "The day I met Abu Hamza I was a marked man."

A secret MI5 bug planted in Mohammed Hamid's home captured Ahmet's deranged, violent rantings during regular Friday afternoon meetings.

Ahmet repeatedly boasted how his purpose in life was to sacrifice himself and that Muslims must defend themselves.

He said: "You have to fight. It is better to fight and let them kill you, than let them put you in prison."

But it was two TV interviews during which Ahmet said he loved Osama bin Laden "more than himself" that formed some of the most damning evidence against him.

Speaking in August 2006 on Sky News, Ahmet refused to condemn terrorist attacks.

Four days later on CNN, Ahmet said those killed during the September 11 attacks were a "drop in the ocean" and said Tony Blair was a legitimate target.

Ahmet was so proud of his TV performances that he distributed DVDs to his friends and followers.

But he also realised the interviews had obliterated his chances of escaping prosecution and keeping his freedom.

Days later and just minutes before detectives swooped on the Bridge to China Town restaurant, Ahmet was nervous, telling the others they needed to talk before the "Feds" came and "bust up your door and start taking people away".

Dawood caught the moment a unit of armed police officers revealed themselves to shocked diners and the gang of Muslims on his hidden tape recorder.

Born in 1964 in London, Ahmet came from a Turkish-Cypriot background and owns land in the north of the Mediterranean island.

His large family is split between two south east London homes in Bromley and Hither Green.

Until the mid-1990s he worked as a football coach for several Sunday league youth sides.

At that time he was known to others as Alan but was criticised by one league organiser for being too volatile.

Ahmet converted to Islam in 1998, although later claimed his real conversion occurred six years earlier when he first heard Islam preached in Arabic.

By 2006, Ahmet was a regular visitor to Hamid's Hackney home. But when the case went to trial there was a falling out.

While giving evidence Hamid said that after their arrest he heard Ahmet crying in his Belmarsh cell.

As the trial progressed, Hamid's barrister Joel Bennathan QC hit out at Ahmet's guilty pleas which he said the jury should not believe.

He accused Ahmet of being the prosecution's new best friend and cutting a "grubby deal" because he was scared of prison.

An undercover officer recalled Atilla Ahmet was nervous before he was arrested in a terror raid on the Bridge to China Town restaurant in south London//