Leaders condemn terror plotters

Qadir Baksh of the Luton Islamic Centre
Qadir Baksh of the Luton Islamic Centre

A mosque leader has described how he tried to counter the extreme views of a would-be terrorist.

Zahid Iqbal and three others downloaded instructions on how to make bombs, but their plot was uncovered by police.

Raids took place in Luton last April

Raids took place in Luton last April

At Woolwich Crown Court on Friday, Iqbal, 30, of Bishopscote Road, admitted downloading computer files containing “practical instruction for a terrorist attack”.

Guilty pleas were also entered by Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, 24, of Maidenhall Road, Umar Arshad, 24, of Crawley Road, and Syed Farhan Hussain, 21, of Cornel Close.

The four men, arrested last April during a series of dawn raids, also bought survival equipment and collected money to fund terrorism.

They were also charged with having a manual on jihad written by radical cleric Anwar Al Awlaki, who was killed in Yemen last year by US forces.

They will be sentenced on April 15.

Iqbal for a time attended the Luton Islamic Centre, where Swedish suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly also worshipped for a period but left after falling out with its leaders.

“Zahid Iqbal attended our mosque for a time but he left disagreeing with our position,” said chairman Qadir Baksh.

“We were dealing with his political views, trying to change them. He was saying that mosque leaders needed to be rebelled against, that none of us were true Muslims at the Islamic Centre.

“He didn’t know how to channel his frustrations with British foreign policy.”

Mr Baksh said he told Iqbal that Islam prohibited him from doing harm to anyone.

“We are not fans of democracy but we have chosen to live in this country and Islam says we must abide by its laws.

“It is treacherous to want to cause people harm.”

The mosque did not report either Iqbal or Abdulwahab al-Abdaly to the police for their views, he said.

“We are not the thought police. My job is to rectify their behaviour by teaching them about the correct religion of Islam.

“If you reported every person for their views on British foreign policy you would be reporting 50 per cent of Muslims in the UK.

“What we would report is if any of them said ‘We are planning to do XYZ’ – there is no doubt under the sun that we would tell the police to come and get them.”