"Top terrorism recruiter" found guilty by British court
A Tanzanian-born man who described himself as al-Qaeda's top representative in Europe was Tuesday convicted of soliciting murder and providing training in Britain for terrorists including the four men sentenced for the July 2005 failed follow-on attacks on the transport network in London.
27 February 2008
LONDON, England - A Tanzanian-born man who described himself as al-Qaeda's top representative in Europe was Tuesday convicted of soliciting murder and providing training in Britain for terrorists including the four men sentenced for the July 2005 failed follow-on attacks on the transport network in London.
A court in Woolwich, south London, Tuesday called Mohammed Hamid, 50, one of the most important recruiters for Islamist extremism in Britain, where he had "groomed and corrupted young men" for terrorism.
Hamid, who called himself "Osama bin London," was found guilty of indoctrinating his followers at regular Friday evening sessions at his home in east London, and of taking them to secret training camps in Britain to prepare them to fight abroad.
The court heard that among those who passed through Hamid's camps were the four failed suicide bombers of July 21, 2005, who have all already been jailed.
On Tuesday, five other men were convicted alongside Hamid at a trial that had been under a reporting black-out until this week.
The court heard that Hamid, commenting on the death of 52 commuters on London's tube and bus network on July 7, 2005, said: "That is not even a breakfast for me."
Hamid had also praised the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001, and planned half a dozen attacks in Britain ahead of the 2012 Olympics in London.
His defence said the accused was a "fantasist rather than a terrorist" and the training sessions were an "innocent weekend activity."
Hamid and his associates were infiltrated by Britain's MI5 counterintelligence service and convicted partly on the basis of text and mobile phone exchanges with the July 21 attackers.
According to anti-terrorism analysts, the conviction marks a major success for counterterrorism policing with Hamid regarded as a key figure in extremist networks.
Hamid, described in court as a former crack cocaine addict, and his chief associate, 43-year-old Atilla Ahmet, will be sentenced next month, while verdicts on some of the other convicted men were expected later Tuesday.