Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 14:51 UK

Two admit publisher attack plot

The house on Lonsdale Square
The property is the home and office of Gibson Square director Martin Rynja

Two men admitted plotting to firebomb the London home of a publisher due to release a book on Prophet Muhammad.

Ali Beheshti, 41, and Abrar Mirza, 23, pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to conspiring to recklessly damage property and endanger life.

Gibson Square publisher Martin Rynja's home in Islington, was attacked on 27 September before the release of The Jewel of Medina.

Fuel was poured through the house's letterbox and set alight.

First-time US author Sherry Jones's book is about Prophet Muhammad's child bride A'isha.

Beheshti, an unemployed man from Tavistock Gardens, Ilford, and Mirza, a mobile phone salesman from Eastfield Road, Walthamstow, were remanded in custody.

Mrs Justice Rafferty said a charge of arson with intent to endanger life would remain on both men's files.

A separate charge of possessing an illegal pepper spray would also remain on Beheshti's file.

A third man, Abbas Taj, 30, a minicab driver from Field Road, Forest Gate, east London, is due to go on a two-week trial next Tuesday.

Novel controversy

Mr Taj denies charges of conspiracy to damage property with intent to endanger life and arson.

The Jewel of Medina was due to be released last August but its publication was cancelled by one major publisher in the United States over fears that the book could offend Muslims.

The book was also withdrawn from stores in Serbia for a time following protests from local Islamic leaders.

Mr Rynja, who was planning to publish the novel in the UK at the time of the attack on his four-storey townhouse, had earlier said the novel was not offensive.

He is due to give evidence during Mr Taj's trial.



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