Oldham terror trial reaches its endgame

After three weeks of evidence at the trial of the Oldham hairdresser, Shasta Khan, who stands accused of a terrorist plot against Jews in Manchester, the prosecution and defence have closed their arguments.

Prosecuting barrister Bobbie Cheema told the court that all the evidence suggested that both Mrs Khan and her husband Sajid, who has pleaded guilty to terror activity, were “in it together.

“Almost every time there was terrorist activity in the house, or they were outside the house, they were together. Shasta didn’t know the police would get CCTV footage from Sainsbury’s or Tesco. Every time the automatic number plate recognition cameras caught the car, they were together,” Ms Cheema said.

The barrister told the jury that Mrs Khan “paints herself as a weak and vulnerable person, tricked into marriage by Sajid Khan; that not until the very end was she aware that her husband was an extremist. What about the terrible risk he took listening to the extremist material that littered their house?

She says she is weak. We say she was complicit

“It appears to be incontrovertible evidence he was searching for shotgun cartridges on her Ebay account. How could he hide from her what he was doing on her own computer when she was present in the living-room? They were spending vast tracts of the day and night together,” the barrister said.

But Ms Cheema told the jury: “You need to keep your eyes on the ball. Was she living in fear of him and his aggression or his threats? That she did what he asked and went along with his terrorist activity? We say the true reason for her compliance is because she was complicit.

“She told police that she’d come across the guns and explosives on the internet. She had read the [Al Qaeda] Inspire magazine. She boiled the bleach in the pan, had put lo-salt into it while following the bomb recipe she had read. She had searched for AK47s to see if it was possible to buy one in this country.”

The evidence, said Ms Cheema, showed that Mrs Khan “is a dangerous and menacing woman and proved guilty of all the charges she faces.”

Mrs Khan wept in the dock after the prosecution closed its case but was composed when her defence barrister, Simon Drew QC, addressed the jury. He said it was an “incredible transformation” that the Khans had radicalised in just three months of marriage and had already planned a terrorist campaign.

“There is not a jot of evidence that between August and November 2010 the couple were actually watching DVDs and extremist material on their computer. The forensic evidence shows what was done on the computer. What it can’t tell is who pushed the button.”

Mr Drew said evidence must convince the jury that Mrs Khan was living in fear of an “abusive, violent and domineering” husband who ordered her about.

He depicted Mr Khan as a “calculating” and already radicalised man who had “hunted” Mrs Khan like bait on a Muslim dating website, to get himself away from his past, including a prison sentence for a serious assault. She was to be his “cover” for terror activity.

In events leading up to the couple’s arrest, said Mr drew, Mr Khan sent Shasta a text saying he would leave her. Moments later he logged into the same Muslim dating website on which they had met.

“The only explanation for this, we say, is that Mr Khan knew the relationship was over, his cover was blown, and he went immediately to look for a new cover.” The case is due to conclude next week.

Last updated: 11:22am, July 12 2012