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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 21:07 GMT
Soldier kidnap plotter given life
Parviz Khan
Khan had extreme Islamist views, the judge said
A man who planned to kidnap and behead a Muslim soldier serving in the British Army has been jailed for life.

Parviz Khan, 37, from Birmingham, who last month admitted the plot and to supplying equipment to the Taleban, was told he must serve at least 14 years.

Four other men have also been convicted of involvement with his terror cell.

On Monday, a Leicester Crown Court jury cleared Amjad Mahmood, 32, from Birmingham, of knowing about the plan but failing to inform authorities.

'Absolutely serious'

The security services had placed a bug in Khan's Alum Rock home, and this provided much of the evidence in the case.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Henriques said Khan had extreme Islamist views and was a fanatic.

"It's plain that you were absolutely serious and determined to bring this plot to fruition," he said.

"This was not only a plot to kill a soldier but a plot to undermine the morale of the British Army and inhibit recruitment."

Then cut it off [the head] like you cut a pig, man
Parviz Khan

Prosecutor Nigel Rumfitt QC told the court Khan was "enraged" by the notion of Muslim soldiers in the British Army.

Mr Rumfitt said: "Khan decided to kidnap such a soldier with the help of drug dealers operating in Birmingham. He would be taken to a lock-up garage and there he would be murdered by having his head cut off like a pig."

He said this would be filmed and released to cause panic and fear within the British armed forces and the wider public.

Khan was claiming benefits of more than 20,000 a year while organising the plot, saying he was waging "financial war" on the West.

The court also heard that he indoctrinated his three small children with hate, getting one to chant that he hated various figures, including Tony Blair and George Bush.

Angler's gloves in Khan's boxes
Gloves for snipers
Range finders
Camping gear
Electronics goods

In November 2006 the security services recorded a conversation Khan had with co-defendant Basiru Gassama.

Khan was heard outlining his plan: "We give the judgment... well then cut it off like you cut a pig, man.

"Then you put it on a stick. Then we throw the body, burn it, send the video to the chacha (uncles, a term for Mujahideen leaders in Afghanistan or Pakistan).

"This is what they call you will terrorise them, they will go crazy."

The jury was told that Khan had wanted Gassama, a Gambian national, to help identify the victim of the plot.

But when Gassama failed to provide details of a target, the plan "lay dormant" after July 2006, Mr Rumfitt said, only to be revived in November 2006.

The court heard Khan was the hub of the cell which organised four shipments of equipment to armed groups based in Pakistan and operating against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

'Fanaticism and fantasy'

The men were arrested in a series of high-profile raids in Birmingham at the end of January last year after an investigation led by West Midlands Police Counter-Terrorism Unit.

The officer who led the operation said Khan had been determined to carry out the plot, which he believed had been "at least supported" by al-Qaeda.

The four men convicted alongside Parviz Khan
Clockwise from top left:
Basiru Gassama
Zahoor Iqbal
Hamid Elasmar
Mohammed Irfan

He would not say how far the plot was from being carried out when they intervened.

Khan's QC, Michael Wolkind, said in mitigation that his client's plot had been a "mixture of fanaticism and fantasy".

Referring to the covert monitoring of Khan, he said: "If there had been a genuine threat, the buggers would have stopped it much earlier. There was a long way to go."

In the wake of the operation, West Midlands Police and the government had come under fire from some sections of the local community for "persecuting" Muslims.

Assistant Chief Constable of the West Midlands Anil Patani said: "Communities need to realise that there are within our communities people who are prepared to perpetrate such acts...

"Responsible people in our communities need to reflect on what they said before in light of what this case has shown."

The head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, praised the work of the police and the intelligence services, saying their "swift action" had "prevented a terrorist atrocity on British soil".

Media leaks

Mr Justice Henriques also criticised leaks which led to reports of the plot in the media shortly after the men's arrests, saying they constituted a "very grave contempt of court".

An inquiry by the Metropolitan Police failed to discover the source of the leaks.

Gassama, 30, of Hodge Hill, Birmingham, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to a failure to disclose information about the plot.

He was jailed for two years. He will be released as he has already been in custody for 381 days, but it is recommended he is deported.

Mohammed Irfan, 31, of Ward End, Birmingham and Zahoor Iqbal, 30, of Perry Barr, Birmingham, both pleaded guilty to helping Khan to supply the equipment. Irfan was jailed for four years and Iqbal for seven years.

Hamid Elasmar, 44, of Edgbaston, Birmingham, who was found guilty of the same charge, was jailed for three years and four months.

Amjad Mahmood, in a statement read by his lawyer, thanked the jury for their hard work and said: "I am not a terrorist, I am a Muslim."

CCTV footage of soldier kidnap plotter


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