Synagogues, Jewish charities 'targeted by bomb attack couple'
Manchester Crown Court: The trial is ongoing
A married couple inspired by al-Qaeda to blow up Jews in Manchester had planned a terror attack from their wedding day, a court has heard. Antisemitic Islamic hate speeches and videos of beheadings were found in their home.
Oldham hairdresser Shasta Khan denies charges of planning to acquire substances to produce a home-made bomb, relating to a period beginning August 10 2010, the day the pair were married at a small Islamic ceremony at Mrs Khan's parents' house. They had met through an Islamic marriage website.
Husband Mohammed Sajid Khan has already pleaded guilty to preparing for acts of terrorism and three counts of possessing terrorist material at an earlier trial.
Yesterday prosecution lawyers said that the couple could have been days from producing explosives and were following al-Qaeda instructions to make a home-made pipe bomb.
Exact items matching the stage-by-stage bomb guide were found in a Maplin bag in their living room, including adapted Christmas tree lights to make a detonator and an alarm clock, alongside items bought at Tesco, Sainsbury's and B&Q to extract the explosive potassium chlorate from household chemicals. The jury was shown receipts for the items, and told that CCTV footage showed both husband and wife purchasing them.
A pot used for boiling Mrs Khan's hairdressing peroxide was found in their home's backyard, where a fridge and cooker had been set up in an outhouse. Shasta Khan had allegedly searched for bomb-making equipment at home on her Ebay account, at a time, the prosecution said, when her husband was away in Yorkshire.
Prosecuting, Bobbie Cheema said the bomb instructions, entitled “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” stated they could produce enough explosive “in one to two days, to kill 10 people; in weeks or a month you can make a big enough bomb to kill tens of people.
“Most chillingly, members of the jury, you will hear that an an individual with minimum scientific training, limited preparations and resources could make potassium chlorate from household bleach using basic equipment,” Miss Cheema added.
The potential Jewish targets for the couple's alleged bomb were also partially disclosed. Mrs Khan told police that she had driven her husband to a Prestwich synagogue, and twice they had sat in its car park watching Jewish people enter, while her husband said a Koranic-inspired verse calling Jews “dirty” and said “we must kill them all”.
The couple had repeatedly driven past synagogues on Shabbat on Northumberland Street, in the heart of Salford's strictly Orthodox community.
The Jewish Agency in Prestwich was a favourite destination on the couple's Tom Tom navigation device, with its website bookmarked on their home computer, alongside that of the UJIA.
Turning to forensic evidence of the couple's two computers, Miss Cheema said that their small terraced house contained a “huge amount” of proscribed terrorist material.
Mrs Khan had watched Jihadi videos of gruesome beheadings and cars exploding, on a “nightly” basis with her husband, Sajid Khan, as she massaged his feet.
These were some of 71 execution videos downloaded in full or partially to the defendant's laptop, which had its desktop set to a picture of Islamic Jihad's flag – the same flag seen in some of the videos. They would listen together to radical antisemitic Islamic sermons, it was alleged, which told listeners to “rise up to aid Palestine” which was given to “Jewish liars trying to steal wealth”.
CDs of radical speeches were found in the CD player of Shasta Khan's blue Peugeot car. The court was shown on video screens pictures of Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders which were found in their computer's picture-folder, alongside family snaps.
The first witness called, the policemen to whom Shasta Khan had “spilled the beans” about her husband's terrorist activities following a domestic incident, said Shasta had informed him her husband “sleeps with a knife under his pillow.” Shasta had also handled a machine gun her husband had brought boastfully into their home.
“Almost nightly he was using the laptop and described how on a standard night she would be massaging oil into his feet while he would look at this [extremist] material,” PC Paul Brereton told the court.
Mrs Khan had told police she was not involved with her husband's activities. Later in a police interview she claimed sole responsibility for all the terror activity, including Google and Ebay searches about bomb-making, and writing Post-It notes, found on the couple's fridge, about Russian guns. She later denied this a second time.
A motive for the couple's alleged Jewish hatred has not been established. The prosecution said that the couple possessed large amounts of “antisemitic material which is not illegal, but could progressively influence radicalised people.”
Miss Cheema told the jury to ask “was Mr Khan on his own or, as we say, both were together acquiring helpful information useful to an act of terrorism?”
The case continues.