Terror Plot Trial Starts

17 February 2016, 07:22 | Updated: 17 February 2016, 07:24

An alleged Islamic extremist planned a terror attack on British or American military personnel in the UK, a court has heard.

Junead Khan, 25, drove close by East Anglian air bases, including RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall which host US Air Force (USAF) units, while working as a delivery driver in May, prosecutors claim.

After his arrest in July, al Qaida instructions for making a ``viable'' pipe bomb and pictures of a large military-style knife he had searched for on Amazon were found on his laptop at his Luton home, the jury was told.

Prosecutor Max Hill QC told Kingston Crown Court that Khan was ``preparing for an attack on British forces or American soldiers or airmen'' when arrested.

Mr Hill told the jury: ``You may conclude that by arresting Junead Khan in July, what happened at that moment was that his plans were therefore, we suggest, thwarted. He was not able to carry out what he wanted to do. But that makes him no less guilty of the charge.''

Khan is charged alone with making preparations for attacking military personnel in the UK between May 10 and July 14, which he denies.

He is on trial alongside his uncle, Shazib Khan, 23, also from Luton, with whom he is jointly charged with making preparations for travelling to Syria to fight for Islamic State (IS).

The pair deny engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts on August 1 2014 and July 15 2015.

Junead Khan was working as a driver for pharmaceutical firm Alliance Healthcare in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, making deliveries in areas of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk which were near places ``in which there were American air force personnel'', Mr Hill said.

When police raided his Marlow Avenue home they found a laptop containing an article called ``Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom'', from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) Inspire online magazine, as well as a balaclava.

Officers also found black flags with Islamic slogans of the type used by IS jihadists, the court heard, and pictures on his phone and laptop showed him posing in front of them in his bedroom.

US and British flags believed to have been stolen from the New York Diner in nearby Dunstable were also found, the jury was told.

Officers from Bedfordshire Police's Prevent programme visited Junead Khan's home in May 2014, but he was at work.

The jury heard that there were many social media messages between the two men, who considered themselves "cousins'' because of their similar ages and who were living in the same house at the time of their arrest.

In one Junead Khan criticised "apologist Muslims'' for "defending the dirty dead dog that drew the cartoon'' after the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in Paris in January 2015.

In another he said to his uncle: "Jihad training bro LOL, we have to keep fit.''

They also celebrated in June 2014 when the Islamic State caliphate was declared, the jury heard, with Junead Khan writing: "Inshallah give them victory.''

The following month Mr Hill said the defendants watched a graphic IS "recruitment'' video which had ``little if anything to do with living a peaceful existence in the caliphate but has everything to do with fighting and killing''.

Later, after watching another video, Shazib Khan wrote to Junead Khan: "I want to wear the black outfit. Looks sick.''

Shazib Khan later exchanged messages with several men the prosecution claim were IS fighters about getting to Syria via Turkey. He told one: "You are like a role model for me. It is an honour to speak to a Mujahidin.''

He also joked about Islamic State's practice of throwing men accused of homosexuality off tall buildings.

Mr Hill said: "The idea of leaving the UK in order to go to IS is clearly in the defendants' minds ... at the declaration of the Islamic State in June 2014. It becomes clear that was not to be a pilgrimage. It was not to be a trip to live in peace under Islam. It was a trip to fight.''

The trial, which is due to last six weeks, continues.