THREE Stoke-on-Trent terrorists who planned to set up a jihadi training camp in Pakistan have been jailed for a combined minimum term of 24 years.
Mohammed Shahjahan, Usman Khan and Nazam Hussain received indeterminate prison sentences at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday, after admitting preparing for acts of terrorism.
Mr Justice Wilkie considered the three so dangerous, due to their aim of training terrorists overseas, that they will only be freed once they are no longer considered a threat to public safety in the UK.
They had been part of a wider terror network involving others from Cardiff and London who plotted a bomb attack on the London Stock Exchange.
But Mr Justice Wilkie said the Stoke-on-Trent cell was the "pre-eminent" group, as their plan to operate a training facility, disguised as a madrassa (seminary) in Kashmir, presented a more long-term threat to the country.
He said: "It is clear that this was a serious long term venture in terrorism, the purpose of which was to establish and manage a terrorist training facility at the madrassa, to fund-raise for its construction and operation by use of various means, including fraud, and to recruit young British Muslims to go there and train, thereafter being available to commit terrorism abroad and at home.
"In my judgment these offenders would remain, even after a lengthy term of imprisonment, of such a significant risk that the public could not be adequately protected by their being managed on licence in the community."
Mr Justice Wilkie accepted that the terror camp was being set up primarily to train fighters to bring Sharia law to Kashmir, but that there was a clear possibility the terrorists it produced would return to the UK to commit atrocities closer to home.
Shahjahan, aged 27, of Burmash Walk, Burslem, who was the leader of the nine-man terror network, was told he would serve a minimum sentence of eight years and 10 months.
Khan, aged 20, of Persia Walk, Tunstall, and Hussain, aged 26, of Grove Street, Cobridge, were planning to travel to Kashmir to receive firearms training at the madrassa. They were each handed minimum terms of eight years. A fourth man from Stoke-on-Trent, Mohibur Rahman, aged 27, of North Road, Cobridge, was jailed for five years after admitting possessing an article for a terrorist purpose, namely copies of an Al-Qaida magazine.
All the members of the terror network were arrested in December 2010, following an extensive surveillance operation by the security forces.
During the investigation, Shahjahan, Khan and Rahman were recorded discussing revenge bomb attacks on racist groups in the Potteries.
They were angry at the activities of groups such as the EDL and recent crimes where Muslims had been the victims. These included the case of Israr Ellahi, pictured left, who died after a street attack in Tunstall, and the attempted arson attack on a mosque in Hanley.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis said: "It is a discussion about putting bombs in the toilets of pubs in Stoke-on-Trent. We accept that this was not a discussion which culminated in a plan to do that, but it was a consideration of whether it should or could be done. Shahjahan talks about doing a 'little vigilante thing'. They talk about two devices. They refer to the BNP and also refer to the EDL."
Khan, the most hotheaded of the terrorists, expressed anger at the police handling of the Ellahi case.
He said: "These kuffar (non-Muslims), these dogs. They've got to be dealt with, they haven't got the fear inside them no more, man."
Barristers representing those who took part in the Pub
bomb discussion emphasised the fact that it only lasted four minutes and the plot was never mentioned by any of the cell members again.
Joel Bennahan, mitigating for Khan, said his client and the others were "indulging in a revenge fantasy" which had little to do with jihad.
Mr Justice Wilkie accepted these discussions never crystalised into a firm plan to carry out a bombing, as the group was more focused on its longer term aims of training terrorists.
Members of the Stoke-on-Trent cell, who had previously engaged in dawah preaching on the streets of the Potteries, came into contact with other groups in Cardiff and London in autumn 2010.
On November 7, the three groups came together for the first time at a meeting in Cardiff, which was followed up by a second joint meeting on December 12.
Following the first meeting, four of the terrorists from London and Cardiff started developing a plot to plant a bomb in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange.
While the Stoke-on-Trent cell members were aware of this plot they took no part in it and saw the meetings as an opportunity to raise funds and find recruits for their training camp. Speaking after the sentences, Jane Sawyers, the assistant chief constable of Staffordshire Police, below, said: "This outcome has been in no small part down to the many members of the local Muslim community who, a number of years ago, raised concerns with us about the activities of these individuals.
"Three of the defendants had their houses searched in July 2008. The fourth was closely involved in the group but did not have his home searched.
"When we took action to make the arrests in December 2010, it was on the basis of an imminent concern for public safety, but this was not related to any targets in Stoke-on-Trent.
"It was acknowledged in court that projects including the possibility of targeting pubs in the city had been discussed, however, these plans were not in any way considered to be well developed and no specific targets were ever agreed.
"Our local police officers and staff work on a daily basis along side our local communities to address the concerns and issues that affect their lives.
"These strong community links help us to listen to the views of local people to deal with their concerns.
"We can only make it more difficult for extremists and terrorists to operate by working closely with our communities."