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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 20:09 GMT
The enigma that is the 'Lyrical Terrorist'
By Ben Ando
Crime reporter, BBC News

She cut a slight, almost incongruous figure in court.

Samina Malik (Pic: Met Police)
Samina Malik denied being a terrorist throughout the trial

Each day, the self-proclaimed "Lyrical Terrorist", Samina Malik, walked to the Old Bailey hiding her face from the cameras with a headscarf.

Usually dressed in a mixture of traditional Muslim clothing with western tracksuit bottoms and trainers, she is always accompanied by her mother and her solicitor, and rarely speaks.

In the week since the jury of seven men and five women was sent out to consider its verdict; she has been given bail with conditions that she need not remain in the dock but could sit in the cafe at the Old Bailey, or anywhere within the court building.

'How to behead'

During this time, approaches to her lawyer requesting an interview were all greeted with the same polite response: She's much too distressed to talk to the media, and had no intention of giving any interviews.

And yet during the course of the trial the jury has heard she downloaded manuals from the internet with such titles as "How to Win in Hand to Hand Combat" and "The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook."

Cover of terrorist manual
Police said they found a "library" of extremist literature in her bedroom

She also wrote poems with titles such as "How to Behead" and "Beheading - How it Feels".

And, the court heard, on an online social networking group known as Hi-5 she listed her interests as "helping the mujahideen any way I can" and, in the section for her favourite TV shows, she entered "watching videos by Muslim brothers in Iraq, yep, the beheading ones."

This morning, when the jury returned its verdict of guilty to the lesser charge of possessing material "likely to be of use" in terrorism (she was acquitted of the more serious charge of having the material "for the purpose" of terrorism) she bowed her head and was clearly sobbing; two female members of the jury also appeared to be wiping away tears.

The Recorder of London, Judge Peter Beamont, told her that "in many respects you are a complete enigma to me" and warned her that all sentencing options remained open.

He also said that "questions needed to be asked" of the staff at WH Smith at Heathrow airport.

Martyrdom doodles

During the trial it emerged that Malik had an "airside" security pass, so she was familiar with sensitive security procedures, and that when she was at work she spent a considerable amount of time composing rambling messages written on blank till rolls about her desire for martyrdom.

When Malik left court today she was, unusually, allowed to leave by the rear exit - a privilege usually afforded only to judges and sometimes those under witness protection schemes.

Her lawyer said it would be "inappropriate" for her to give any reaction even, as one photographer asked, with a poem.


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