Luton TA Base Bomb Plot

18 April 2013, 12:32 | Updated: 18 April 2013, 12:36

Two terrorists from Luton who discussed plans for an al-Qaida-inspired attack on the town's Territorial Army Centre have been jailed.

Zahid Iqbal, 31, and Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, 25, (pictured first and second from left) discussed sending a remote-controlled toy car carrying a home-made bomb under the gates of the TA Centre, London's Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Mr Justice Wilkie QC said the pair posed "a significant risk of serious harm to the public'' as he handed them each jail sentences of at least 11 years and three months, with a five-year extension period subject to licence.

Two other men were also jailed.

Umar Arshad, 24, (pictured third from left) was sentenced to six years and nine months and Syed Farhan Hussain, 22, (fourth from left) for five years and three months for their roles in preparing for a terrorist attack.

The men, all from Luton, had admitted one count of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism between 1 January 2011 and 25 April 2012 at a hearing on 1 March 2013.

Iqbal and Ahmed had spoken about making an improvised explosive device based on instructions in an al Qaida manual called "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom - by the al Qaida chef'', the court was told.

Iqbal was recorded telling Ahmed: "I was looking and drove past, like, the TA centre, Marsh Road. At the bottom of their gate there's quite a big gap.

"If you had a little toy car it drives underneath one of their vehicles or something.''

But lawyers for the pair dismissed the conversation as a "one-off'' that went no further.

The offences committed by Iqbal, of Bishopscote Road, Ahmed, of Maidenhall Road, Arshad, of Crawley Road, and Hussain, of Cornel Close , took place between January 2011 and April last year.

The men bought survival equipment and collected funds for terrorist purposes, and downloaded files containing justification and practical guidance for a terrorist attack.

They also admitted facilitating, planning and encouraging travel overseas, as well as organising, encouraging and participating in physical training, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorist Act 2006.

DAC Stuart Osborne, Senior National Co-ordinator Counter Terrorism and head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: "These men were arrested as the result of a joint intelligence-led operation by the Met's Counter Terrorism Command the British Security Service and as a result the public are safer.

"They discussed plans to carry out attacks in the UK - at a territorial army base as well as multiple sites at one time. They talked about making a bomb and procuring firearms and indeed were raising money for terrorism.

"More than one travelled to Pakistan to carry out terrorist training and was also actively involved in radicalising and recruiting others to follow the same route. They took advantage of practical information from Inspire and several other terrorist publications which have the ultimate aim of encouraging attacks.

"The actions and intentions of these men starkly demonstrate what we have repeatedly said - that terrorists live among us while they carry out their plans, doing all they can to conceal their activities.

"We need the help of all our communities to come forward with information about such behaviour or activity so that we can arrest and charge individuals who have violent, extremist views and pose a danger to the public."