Couple 'planned to bomb Manchester Jewish area', court hears

Manchester Crown Court

Manchester Crown Court

A court has heard how a husband and wife “were in the early stages” of preparing bombs allegedly to blow up Manchester's Jewish community.

Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, pleaded guilty to planning terrorist attacks against Manchester's Jews at an earlier hearing, which could not be reported for legal reasons.

Now, Mohammed's wife Shasta Khan, 38, from Oldham, is facing the same charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and three counts of possessing information linked to al Qaeda likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Mrs Khan's trial, which opened at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday, heard how the hairdresser and her husband had allegedly accessed bomb-making manuals linked with al-Qaeda, over the internet. It is also alleged they were in the early stages of producing a home-made bomb at their marital address, which doubled as Mrs Khan's hairdressing salon.

Little is yet known about the intended targets, although opening the prosecution, counsel Bobbie Cheema told the jury that the couple began “to make preparations to carry out a terrorist attack on British soil, with the most likely target being an Orthodox Jewish area in Prestwich. Between them they made preparations, and acquired substances bought in supermarkets and information to help them in making explosives, and began the process of assembling an improvised explosive device.”

Setting out her case as “straightforward”, Miss Cheema said it was a case “summarised as Jihad at home”, adding: “In 2010, after they were married, and in 2011, the two of them became radicalised by material found on the internet, such as an al-Qaeda magazine called Inspire, the aim of which is to encourage Muslims in the West to carry out violent holy war or Jihad by mounting attacks in their own countries.”

Police only discovered these latest British terror activities by accident, after officers were called to a domestic incident on July 20 2011. Mr Khan had assaulted his father-in-law, the jury was told, while Shasta Khan and her family took the opportunity to “spill the beans”, telling police Mohammed was a “home- grown terrorist.”

No motive has been mentioned for the planned attacks, but the prosecution said the couple “believed in and supported an extreme ideology of violent 'holy war'” and that in this ideology, “Jews are seen as particular enemies for their presence in Palestine and support for their existence there and, in part, by the United States and Britain for Israel.”

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Last updated: 8:29pm, June 20 2012