Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Briton guilty of directing terror

Rangzieb Ahmed and Habib Ahmed
The defendants had denied the charges against them

A British man has become the first al-Qaeda suspect convicted in the UK of directing terrorism, following a trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Rangzieb Ahmed, 33, was also found guilty of being a member of terror group al-Qaeda, along with Habib Ahmed.

Habib Ahmed, 29, was caught with two diaries containing details of top al-Qaeda operatives, described in court as a terrorist's contact book.

Both men, who are from Manchester, are due to be sentenced on Friday.

The diaries, which contained some writing in invisible ink, had been given to Habib Ahmed by his co-defendant Rangzieb Ahmed, who is no relation.

Among the names and phone numbers in the diaries was a former al-Qaeda top man Hamza Rabia, the court was told.

'Major activity'

The prosecution said he had been part of a three-man active service cell on an unknown foreign mission.

Rangzieb had travelled to Dubai from Pakistan via China en route to South Africa in December 2005 as part of a "major activity," the court heard.

It was said these were abandoned when his boss, Hamza Rabia, was killed in an explosion the same month.

Rangzieb Ahmed was trapped by a complex police and security force operation

Habib then flew to Dubai to collect the diaries and they returned to the UK separately.

Counter-terrorism officers, who were monitoring the two men, had bugged the hotel room in Dubai where they made several coded references to al-Qaeda.

They also placed a probe in the taxi of Habib, who they continued to monitor when he returned to the UK.

Rangzieb returned to Pakistan in January 2006 to continue his ambitions as an international terrorist.

He was arrested by the Pakistani authorities in August 2006 over alleged links with al-Qaeda, his detention forced detectives to apprehend Habib as they feared he would go on the run.

He was already a confessed member of another proscribed terror group, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM).

Attack planning'

Two of the invisible ink diaries were discovered at Habib's home following his arrest.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter from Greater Manchester Police said: "Rangzieb Ahmed is a very dangerous man. He consorts with senior terrorist figures and has devoted his life to creating and working with terrorist networks.

Diary page showing al-Qaeda contacts

"We believe that he was intent on masterminding terrorist attacks and would have considered mass murder part of his duty.

"We don't know where Rangzieb's next target would have been, or what exactly he was working towards, but we are sure he was attack-planning."

Both Rangzieb and Habib Ahmed had close contact with al-Qaeda's senior figures, and were arranging for British citizens to visit terrorist camps, he added.

Torture claim

The men were both found guilty of possessing the diaries between April 2004 and April 2006 for the purpose of terrorism.

Habib Ahmed, of Cheetham Hill, north Manchester, was cleared of attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2006.

He was also found not guilty of seven counts of possessing information for the purposes of terrorism.

His wife, Mehreen Haji, 28, was cleared of two counts of arranging funding for the purposes of terrorism.

Rangzieb Ahmed, of Fallowfield, south Manchester, was cleared of possessing a rucksack containing traces of explosives for the use of terrorism.

His legal team say he was tortured during his eight-month detention in a Pakistani jail.

Both men showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. They will be sentenced on Friday.

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