Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Brothers from Blackburn jailed for terrorist offences

Footage of terror suspects crawling through a park in Lancashire

Footage of the 'Blackburn Resistance' crawling through a Lancashire park

Two brothers who filmed propaganda in the style of al-Qaeda have been jailed for terrorist offences.

Abbas Iqbal was jailed for a total of two years at Manchester Crown Court for committing acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications.

The 24-year-old had stored weapons at the family home in Blackburn, Lancs.

Ilyas Iqbal, 23, who compiled guerrilla warfare information, was jailed for 18 months for possessing a document likely to be useful to a terrorist.

It would be wrong to pass a long sentence on someone who is obviously more taken with the vanity than the reality
Judge Andrew Gilbert QC

The pair, who called themselves "The Blackburn Resistance", were found guilty after a four-week trial.

Ilyas Iqbal was released immediately, having already spent two-and-a-half years awaiting trial. His brother will be released shortly for the same reason.

A third man, Muhammad Ahmad, 26, was cleared of preparing for an act of terrorism.

Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Gilbert QC told Ilyas: "You fancied yourself as a fighter for the cause, but the truth is you were a very low-grade one.

"It would be wrong to pass a long sentence on someone who is obviously more taken with the vanity than the reality."

During the four-week trial, the jury was shown mobile phone footage of the men dressed in camouflage and crawling across a town centre park in daylight.

Still from police footage showing Abbas Iqbal holding a rifle
Air rifles, knives, a crossbow and sword were found at the family home

One appeared to carry a rifle as he rustled through Corporation Park in Blackburn.

The video was among material found on a mobile phone memory card in Abbas Iqbal's suitcase at Manchester Airport in August 2008.

He was arrested as he tried to board a flight to northern Europe in the company of an alleged extremist, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Prosecutor Edward Brown QC said the video's "promotional collage" was intended to radicalise others abroad.

The park video is introduced by a voice stating: "They are fighting against oppression, they are The Blackburn Resistance."

It is accompanied by a background chant with the words: "I am the armour for those who believe in the unity of Allah. I am the fire against the aggressor."

'Urban combat'

The Iqbal family home in Percival Street, Blackburn, was searched and officers uncovered an armoury in a cabinet.

It contained numerous air rifles, knives, machetes, a sword, a crossbow, various ammunition, books on weaponry and hand-written notes on "attack planning" and "urban combat"

A desktop computer was also found to contain extremist material.

In his defence, Abbas Iqbal claimed the park video was a homage to his action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and was based on the film Predator, which he said he had seen 600 times.

He said he had wanted to fly abroad because he had been offered a job as a teacher at a newly opened mosque.

Ilyas Iqbal said his notes on "urban combat" were largely based on the Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down and he could not see how his ideas would have been useful to anyone but himself.

Outside court, a friend of Mr Ahmed read a statement on his behalf, saying he had only been prosecuted because he was a Muslim.

The statement said: "We have been labelled wrongly as terrorists by the media and police. I was arrested, charged and imprisoned for 19 months waiting for the trial, thankfully I was acquitted."

Det Ch Supt Tony Porter, of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said all information was fully considered to minimise risk to the public.

"Security for our communities is our highest priority and sometimes we have to make arrests," he said.

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