How the would-be Oldham terrorists became radicalised

By Jenni Frazer, July 20, 2012

Mohammed Sajid Khan was born in Pakistan but was raised a British national from the age of three or four years old. He had run a car valeting service in Bradford but was unemployed at the time of his arrest.

Shasta Khan was born in the UK and her marriage to Sajid Khan was her third. She ran a hairdressing business from the couple's home on Foster Street, Oldham.

The couple met on a Muslim dating site in July 2010 and were married roughly six weeks later. After a honeymoon in Turkey where they were pictured in Western clothing, they appear to have become quickly radicalised and by November 2010 were listening to extremist material. Changes in their demeanour and dress show that by July 2011 they had strict Islamic beliefs and radical views.

By 2011 the couple began to experience marital difficulties, culminating in a row on Friday July 22 2011 when Sajid Khan is alleged to have assaulted his wife's father at a house in Waterhead. Sajid Khan left in his wife's blue Peugeot and Shasta called police.

Sajid Khan was tracked down to the couple's Oldham address by police officers, and shortly afterwards a formal complaint was made about his conduct by Shasta's brother. Sajid Khan was subsequently arrested on suspicion of assault and theft.

While officers were taking statements, a relative indicated to police that Sajid Kahn might be a "home-grown terrorist". At this point Shasta Khan willingly gave an initial account to a police officer of her husband's activities, alleging he had asked her for chemicals from her hairdressing business so he could carry out experiments, had viewed beheadings and other extremist materials via the Internet, regularly made antisemitic comments and had made her drive him around the Prestwich and Salford areas to look at possible targets within these Jewish communities. She further alleged that on one occasion, they parked up outside the Jewish Agency and walked around the building.

Because of her allegations, the North West Counter Terrorism Unit was informed and an investigation was launched. At this point, Shasta was treated as a significant witness but as the investigation continued, she too was arrested.

When officers from the NWCTU searched the home, they found a number of items suggesting the couple were preparing to commit a terrorist act.

These included a digital radio frequency detector which is predominately used for anyone who suspects they are under surveillance, a metal pan in the backyard containing evidence that chemicals had been heated in an attempt to produce an explosive, crushed firelighters, significant quantities of lo-salt, peroxide and bleach, electrical items in a Maplin's bag including a string of lights and a power supply, safety goggles, nail polish remover (acetone) and an outside refrigerator that could have been used to cool down any chemicals that had been cooked in the metal pan.

Officers also discovered a number of Post-It notes, one of which contained a reminder to buy, among various harmless domestic items on a shopping list, an alarm clock which could have been used as a component part in time-delay explosive device. Other notes contained a Tesco shopping list which included bleach, battery and chlorine tablets, while another bore the words "Upper Park Rd, Broughton" and "Northumberland Street", both home to significant Jewish communities. Officers also found two notes, in different handwriting, referring to a Tokarev rifle and ammunition.

Sajid Khan's red Honda Civic was searched and a laptop and a satellite navigation system were seized.

On the laptop, officers found a copy of an Internet-based Al-Qaeda produced magazine which encourages Muslims to commit violent terrorist acts. Included in this magazine were articles on how to use an AK47 and detailed instructions on how to make acetone peroxide into a credible and volatile explosive device.

The laptop also contained a document entitled "course.pdf" which detailed ways in which a potential recruit to fight for jihad can avoid detection and how to communicate in secret. There was another folder called 'executions' which contained videos of American soldiers being killed.

Among the Internet bookmarks/favourites were The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases, a YouTube video featuring a motivational jihadist film, a web page providing details of the UK "Armed Forces Day" in July 2011 which may have been an indication of an intent to carry out terrorist activity against British troops, and a website for the Jewish Agency in Bury.

Further analysis of the computer revealed that YouTube video clips detaining how to make an explosive compound from household items had been accessed, and the Internet search engine Google had been used to search "green birds" which is believed to be a reference to Islamic martyrdom. There was also a file marked "Massive chemistry and explosives book collection". Software had also been installed wiping evidence of previous searches.

A Hewlett Packard computer tower was also seized, which included a random pictures folder containing images of Al-Qaeda leaders and guns, and Internet searches had been performed for AK47s, salt peter and hydrometers. Ebay searches had also been carried out for chlorine, shot guns, air rifles, pistols and shot gun cartridges.

Internet locations saved in the favourites included the Islamic Revival Sheikh Anjem Chowdary, the British Conspiracy and full events listing for an Armed Forces Day. There were also Jihadi propaganda and lectures which are strongly antisemitic.

The conclusion of a number of scientific experts was that the items recovered from the home could be used to construct an improvised explosive device.

An earlier copy of the Internet-based magazine contained an eight-page article entitled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom". Although this magazine was not found at the house, the instructions on how to construct such a device using electrical items and what basic household ingredients were needed to create an explosive compound, were almost identical to those found at the couple's home.

Analysis of the couple's Tomtom revealed a number of favourite destinations the couple had stored, which included the Jewish Agency in Bury and Northumberland Street, a road in Broughton Park, Salford to the south of Prestwich which is the hub of the Jewish community and contains a number of Jewish religious and educational buildings.

There would be no reason for the Khans to visit this area.

Further analysis also revealed a number of journeys to other Jewish areas. Nine of the last 24 journeys they made between March 272011 and July 9 2011 were to areas of Whitefield and Prestwich with strong links to the Jewish community.

Last updated: 4:17pm, July 20 2012