Six men to be sentenced after plot to strike at an EDL rally

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The sentencing of six men who planned a murderous attack on an English Defence League rally in West Yorkshire is due to continue.

Muslim extremists were behind the plot that prosecutors claim could have sparked a “tit-for-tat spiral of violence and terror”.

Jewel Uddin, 27, Omar Mohammed Khan, 31, Mohammed Hasseen, 24, Anzal Hussain, 25, Mohammed Saud, 23, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, are all due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey.

They previously admitted the plot to strike at an EDL rally in Dewsbury in June last year.

It only failed by chance, and the six conspirators would have gone on to attack another rally by the far right group had they not been stopped, the court heard on Thursday.

EDL members were encouraged to travel to the court for the sentencing and dozens gathered at a nearby pub and then in the street outside.

With English flags on display, they could be heard chanting “Anjem Choudary, off our streets,” referring to the radical preacher, and “EDL”.

Leader Tommy Robinson and his deputy Kevin Carroll briefly went into the public gallery of Court 12 to watch the beginning of the hearing.

Robinson glared into the dock and appeared to smirk as he walked out of the public gallery.

Two men aged 24 and 26 were arrested outside the court during the course of the day, both on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly, City of London Police said.

Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC told the court: “In the months leading up to June 30 2012 these six men, all ideologically committed to radical Islam, planned to execute a terrible vengeance on the English Defence League for what they perceived to be the EDL’s recent blasphemous words and actions against the Prophet Mohammed and Islam.

“Their plain and now admitted intention was to carry out a terrorist attack using a varied selection of offensive weapons: an improvised explosive device, two sawn-off shotguns, swords and knives.

“As well as members of the EDL and police officers on duty, ordinary shoppers and workers would have been in the town centre at the time of the rally, at the time of the planned attack.”

All of the men except Hasseen travelled to Dewsbury on the day of the rally but arrived at around 4pm, while the event had finished earlier than expected at 2pm.

They were armed with two shotguns, swords, knives, a nail bomb containing 458 pieces of shrapnel, and a partially assembled pipe bomb.

The nail bomb was an 18in rocket stuffed with shrapnel and was to be powered by explosives taken from at least two large fireworks.

Ms Cheema told the court: “The defendants have admitted what is obvious from the evidence gathered during the careful police investigation: that they intended to bring about a violent confrontation with the EDL during which they intended to use weapons to cause serious injuries and they anticipated, each one of them, that some victims may have died.

“It takes but a little contemplation to realise that had the retaliatory attack gone ahead as planned it would have had a powerful impact on relations between different groups who for the most part live peacefully alongside each other in the UK and that impact would probably have still been reverberating today.

“There can be little doubt that a violent attack of the kind intended to be carried out would have been bound to draw a response in revenge from its target and most likely would have led to a tit-for-tat spiral of violence and terror. The defendants anticipated as much.”

She added: “The plan was only averted because the rally finished earlier than expected and the crowd had dispersed by the time the defendants arrived.

“Importantly, although this particular attack was averted there is no reason to doubt that had they not been caught, these six men would have pursued their aim of retaliation and proceeded to carry out their plans on a subsequent occasion.”

The court heard that the plotters took 10 copies of a document entitled “Operation: In defense (sic) of the Prophet Muhammad”.

The hate-filled note was addressed to the enemies of Allah and his messenger and referred to the Queen as the “kafir (non-believer) female devil”.

It also called the EDL the English Drunkards League, and in a direct message said: “O enemies of Allah! We have heard and seen you openly insulting the final Messenger of Allah... you should know that for every action there is a reaction.

“Today is a day of retaliation (especially) for your blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad. We love death more than you love life. The penalty for blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad is death.”

The Old Bailey was told that the six men, who are all from the West Midlands, met at the Darul Ihsaan Islamic and Fitness Centre in Birmingham, known as the Baker Street gym, on the day before the planned attack

Details of extremist material the men had in their possession were also read to the court.

Khan had a green A4 notebook in his bedroom with “This belongs to Omar Khan so don’t touch” written on the cover, which contained passages suggesting jihad is an obligation.

Prosecutors claim Hasseen was the most “ideologically committed” of the group, and he was found to have 859 files containing extreme material. Ahmed had 203, while Saud possessed 75.

Uddin had material including a number of Islamic chants interspersed with gunfire stored on his phone, and Hussain had a lecture in which the speaker said: “Oh God please blow me up.”

Ms Cheema explained that Hasseen, Ahmed and Saud had carried out extensive research on the EDL, covering where they were holding rallies and even trying to find Mr Robinson’s phone number.

A series of YouTube videos were viewed, including clips entitled: “EDL - English Defence League Kill the EDL Enemies of Allah” and “EDL Leader Tommy Robinson unmasked”.

In the hate-filled letter that the group had drafted, they called on young Muslims to “rise up”.

The note said: “It is the greatest honour for us to do what we did and we all call upon the Muslim Youth to rise up and defend the honour of Allah and his messenger.”

The court heard that in 2012 the EDL held 130 events, at which 677 arrests occurred, 500 of which involved confirmed EDL members.

The group was set up in 2009 to protest against the perceived “Islamification” of the UK, Ms Cheema said.