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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 11:54 GMT
Profiles: The Birmingham cell

Profiles of five men convicted in relation to a terrorism cell led by a man who wanted to kidnap and kill a British Muslim soldier.


Parviz Khan

Khan was born on 17 October 1970 in Derby to a family from the Mirpur area of Pakistan. A British citizen, he also held a Pakistani identity card and lived in the Alum Rock area to the west of Birmingham city centre.

Khan was a fixer for fighting groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, spending thousands of pounds on equipment that could be used in a military environment.

He bought the equipment at shops and superstores throughout Birmingham before shipping it out through the city's airport. He would then return to the UK with a new shopping list.

Khan refused to recognise the court process throughout the preparation of the trial. In police interviews, he would only say "no comment". But just before the trial began, he pleaded guilty.


Basiru Gassama

Gambia-born Basiru Gassama, 30, was the last of the men to be charged. He pleaded guilty to failing to alert the authorities to Khan's kidnap plan. He was not charged in relation to Khan's equipment shipping enterprise.

Prosecutors say Khan hoped Gassama could identify through contacts a suitable Gambian-born Muslim soldier to be kidnapped in central Birmingham.

Police say Khan first tried to persuade Gassama to take part in July 2006. He tried again four months later.

Gassama was under surveillance for six months. Prosecutors told the trial that there was no evidence the father-of-one ever took steps to help Khan. Gassama never provided a name of a potential victim to Khan.

Gassama was given a two-year sentence - but having served more than a year already while awaiting trial he is being released. The judge has recommended he be deported.

The following three men were charged in relation to Khan's smuggling activities - but were not involved in the plot to kidnap a soldier:


Zahoor Iqbal

IT teacher Zahoor Iqbal was born in Birmingham on 28 August 1977 and was found guilty of helping Parviz Khan to supply fighters for terrorist purposes.

Iqbal was convicted of having a significant role in the schemes to send equipment abroad and was recorded on an MI5 bug discussing the articles, including the best gloves for snipers.

Police say Iqbal knew Khan was trying to use the Kashmir earthquake relief effort as cover for shifting equipment to Pakistan. The prosecution say Mr Iqbal has a key role in wiring 12,000 to Khan in Pakistan to pass on to fighters.

Prosecutors say he had nothing to do with Parviz Khan's plot to kidnap a soldier. Iqbal was also cleared of having a document useful to terrorists.


Mohammed Irfan

Mohammed Irfan was born on 14 December in 1976 in the same region of Pakistan as Parviz Khan.

He grew up in Birmingham and is a British national. Before the trial opened, he pleaded guilty to helping Khan supply equipment to foreign fighters in the eight months leading up to his arrest in February 2007.

Irfan helped Khan go to the airport for his final delivery of goods in December 2006.

By this time, Khan was under MI5 surveillance. Irfan was caught on CCTV camera helping him at the airport. In one bugged conversation, Irfan agrees a code with Khan as a means of concealing their plans about the equipment being sent to the Afghan front line. He was not charged in relation to Khan's kidnap plot.


Hamid Elasmar

Hamid Elasmar was the final member of Khan's group to plead guilty in relation to Khan's equipment-shipping activities.

Born in September 1963 in Casablanca, Elasmar also used the nom-de-guerre Abu Tariq. He is thought to have married in 1992 and then divorced in 2005. He was later remarried to a Moroccan woman.

The British national was involved in Khan's plans to ship equipment to foreign fighters. Elasmar's home in Edgbaston was said to be used for plotting, inclugin a meeting just two weeks before arrests. Elasmar refused to stand in court before the judge, Mr Justice Henriques, until a conversation through the dock with his barrister.


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