LONDON – A husband and wife inspired by al-Qaida were convicted on Friday of
plotting terrorist attacks against the Jewish community in
Both were sentenced to prison.
Mohammed Sajid Khan,
33, and Shasta Khan, 38, were in the early stages of plotting an attack using
improvised bombs. They intended to target synagogues, Jewish charities and
community buildings in Prestwich, a predominantly Jewish area of North
Police only discovered the bomb-making materials after a
domestic dispute alerted officers to the couple’s house in July 2011. Khan had
attacked his wife’s father, and her family decided to “spill the beans,” telling
police that he was a “home-grown terrorist.”
The couple, who married six
weeks after they met on an Muslim dating website, had become radicalized by
material on the Internet, including al- Qaida’s online magazine, Inspire, where
they also found details on how to build bombs.
Police found literature
espousing anti-Semitic and violent jihadist beliefs in the couple’s house in
Oldham, Greater Manchester.
An article from the al-Qaida magazine was
found, titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.” It offered a
step-by-step guide, from how to get ingredients without raising suspicion, to
building a bomb using Christmas lights.
According to the article, in one
or two days a bomb could be made to kill “at least 10 people,” and with more
time, “tens of people.”
There was a cache of terrorist material at the
couple’s house. Videos of beheadings, propaganda glorifying Osama bin Laden and
bomb-making guides were seized along with the peroxide and bleach, which together
with electrical equipment – including electrical wires, Christmas tree lights,
bulbs and a battery – were being readied to make an improvised bomb, the
Manchester Crown Court heard.
Fire starters, safety goggles, a funnel,
needles and syringes were also part of the items police found that could be used
to make a bomb.
During the trial, the jury saw evidence of anti-Semitic
incitement and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and that the couple researched Jewish
neighborhoods and had driven to these areas to engage in
Mohammed Khan pleaded guilty to the charges. Shasta Khan
pleaded innocent but was found guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation for
acts of terrorism and two of three counts of possessing a record of information
likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of
Khan was given an indeterminate sentence, to serve a minimum
of seven years and six months, while Shasta was given eight years, and will
serve four minus the 350 days she has already spend on remand.
Community Security Trust, a charity that provides security for the British
Jewish community, worked closely with police before and during the
CST said the trial had shown the reality of anti-Jewish terrorism
in Britain today.
“It explains why Jewish communities take security and
anti-Semitism seriously,” Mark Gardner, CST’s director of communications, said
on Friday. “CST thanks Greater Manchester Police and the North West Counter
Terrorism Unit for their cooperation with CST and our Jewish community at this
“We urge the Jewish community to lead its life to the
full, and ask that it keeps supporting communal security efforts. In particular,
suspicious activities in Jewish areas should be reported to CST and police,”
CST said that Iran and Hezbollah were central to
anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Europe.
In February, nine British men
were convicted of plotting to send letter bombs to various targets, including
two synagogues. In March, an Islamist murdered three children and a teacher at a
Jewish school in Toulouse. In June 2011, an al-Qaida leader in East Africa was
found with plans to attack targets in London, including the Jewish neighborhoods
of Golders Green and Stamford Hill.
“Anti-Semitism is central to extreme
Islamist ideology. Furthermore, Iran and its Hezbollah surrogate continue to
target Jews and also Israelis,” Gardner said.