Manchester couple jailed for plan to attack Jews

Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, and Shasta Khan, 38, were in the early stages of plotting an attack using improvised bombs.

Couple jailed for Manchester terror plot 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Manchester Greater Police)
Couple jailed for Manchester terror plot 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Manchester Greater Police)
LONDON – A husband and wife inspired by al-Qaida were convicted on Friday of plotting terrorist attacks against the Jewish community in Manchester.
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 Manchester.
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 reconnaissance.
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 terrorism.
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.
The Community Security Trust, a charity that provides security for the British Jewish community, worked closely with police before and during the trial.
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 difficult time.
“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,” Gardner added.
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.