Thursday, September 25, 2008

A British Muslim was a senior al-Qaeda leader

Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
UK Telegraph

Rangzieb Ahmed, 33, from Manchester is accused of directing terrorism between April 2004 and Aug 2006.

He allegedly travelled from Pakistan to Dubai where he met an associate in a hotel room to hand over three terrorist contact books containing telephone numbers and emails written in invisible ink.

The other man, Habib Ahmed, 28, flew back to Britain separately but his luggage was secretly opened as he passed through Schipol airport in Amsterdam and the alleged code books discovered.

The security services followed the men around Manchester where they watched them holding meetings and bugged Habib's taxi and another vehicle, the court heard. Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, told Manchester Crown Court: "The prosecution say that Rangzieb Ahmed was a member of al-Qaeda and an important member of al-Qaeda who was in a position to direct some of its activities."

He said Rangzieb had travelled to Dubai intending to travel on to South Africa but was diverted to Britain when something went wrong.

"He was travelling on important al-Qaeda business," Mr Edis said and Habib had flown out to help him.

The men's conversation in Dubai was secretly recorded and Rangzieb gave Habib a Filofax and two exercise books to carry back to Britain, the court heard.

"They contained information in invisible ink," Mr Edis said. "The prosecution say these books contained information of considerable importance to a terrorist which allows the terrorist to communicate secretly by email and telephone - a contact book for a terrorist."

From Dubai the men flew separately to Britain arriving around Christmas 2005, the court heard.

"During that time he held meetings with al-Qaeda contacts, assisted by Habib Ahmed.

"He was an important al-Qaeda man at that time and in this country and it was important for members of the organisation, including Habib Ahmed to help him," Mr Edis said.

Listening devices were put in two cars, including a taxi driven by Habib Ahmed, the court heard, which monitored conversations between December 2005 and July 2006.

Rangzieb left for Pakistan in January 2006 and Habib followed in April 2006.

"He went to a training camp in Pakistan to be trained further to be an active terrorist, trained in explosives."

While in Pakistan, Habib's wife, Mehreen Haji, 28, sent a total of £4,000 in two payments, allegedly to support his activities.

The court heard that Rangzieb, who was jailed in India for seven years after illegally crossing the border, admits to being a member of the group Harakat ul-Mujahideen, described as a Kashmiri terrorist group, but denies being a member of al-Qaeda.

He was born in Rochdale, Lancashire, but spent most of his childhood in Pakistan after a family split and only returned to Britain after his release from jail in May 2001, leaving again three years later without telling his family where he was going.

Habib Ahmed is said to claim he associated with Rangzieb because he was working as a journalist.

His wife is said to accept that she sent him money but did not know it was for terrorist purposes.

When the pair, who have two children, were arrested in August 2006 and their home searched, police found material from the disbanded group al-Muhajiroun and a photograph of its leader Omar Bakri Mohammed speaking during their wedding.

"This is not a trial about ideas, it is a trial about terrorism," Mr Edis said. "It is not simply having ideas but taking steps to implement those ideas by participating in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

Rangzieb is accused of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation, possessing articles for terrorism and possessing a rucksack with traces of explosives.

Habib is accused of possessing information for terrorism and receiving terrorist training in Pakistan.

Haji is accused of arranging funding for terrorism.

They deny the charges and the trial continues.

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