Taliban bomb-maker jailed for 40 years for UK parliament plot

In this file photo taken on April 27, 2017 firearms officers from the British police detain a man, later named as Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali, on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018

Taliban bomb-maker jailed for 40 years for UK parliament plot

  • The FBI in the United States subsequently matched his fingerprints to caches of explosives recovered by Afghan forces in 2012
  • The court heard Ali admitted involvement in making explosives in Afghanistan

LONDON: A 28-year-old man was sentenced Friday to a minimum of 40 years in jail for making explosives for the Taliban and for plotting a knife attack at the Houses of Parliament in London.
Khalid Ali, from north London, was dramatically arrested by armed police on a street outside parliament in April 2017 with three blades tucked into his clothes.
He was moments from launching an attack on police, politicians or the military, England’s Old Bailey central criminal court in London heard during his trial last month.
The plumber was on Tuesday found guilty of preparing terrorist acts in Britain and two charges of possessing explosive substances with intent abroad.
On Friday, judge Nicholas Hilliard handed Ali three life sentences, to run concurrently: one for each charge.
He gave a minimum of 40 years for making improvised explosive devices for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan in 2012 and 25 years for the plot to kill in Britain.
“I am absolutely sure you were in Afghanistan. You were a valued member of a team making IEDs that were detonated in combat before January and July 2012,” Hilliard said.
The judge said the plotted attack in London was designed to attract “maximum publicity and instil terror.”
“I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a very considerable risk of your committing offenses of violence in the future and cause death or serious injury as a result.”
During the trial, prosecutor Brian Altman told jurors that Ali, who had returned to Britain from Afghanistan in late 2016, planned a “deadly terror attack at the very heart of this country’s democracy.”
Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon said he was “an incredibly dangerous individual.”
He had returned from a training camp in Afghanistan “with a determination to kill,” he added.
In police interviews, Ali said he wanted to deliver a “message” to British authorities.
“Jihad is what we do,” he told officers.
During his trial, the court heard Ali admitted involvement in making explosives in Afghanistan, even bragging he detonated more than 300 devices.
In November 2016, he was stopped at Heathrow Airport, interviewed by police and his fingerprints and DNA samples were taken.
The FBI in the United States subsequently matched his fingerprints to caches of explosives recovered by Afghan forces in 2012, and Ali was placed under surveillance in Britain.
The Old Bailey heard he was seen conducting reconnaissance at various sites around London in March and April last year, before making several purchases of knives.
Police moved in to arrest Ali on April 27 not far from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Downing Street office.


Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

An Afghan man mourns during the funeral of his brother after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and injuring 200 others. (Reuters)
Updated 3 min 1 sec ago

Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

  • Bride’s relatives, members of music band among victims of Daesh attack

KABUL: Mirwais Elmi’s special night soon became a bloodbath after a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the hotel hall where his wedding ceremony was taking place, killing more than 63 people and injuring 200 others in Kabul on Sunday. Elmi and his bride, who were in separate areas of the venue, survived the blast. The explosion took place just before dinner was to be served to the nearly 1,000 guests who had gathered in the southwest of the city.
The local Daesh affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack Speaking to a private TV channel on Sunday, a shaken Elmi was unable to describe the carnage that took place.
“I am not a groom today, my family, my friends are all in grief,” Elmi, who is in his early 20s and works as a tailor, said.
He added that he never thought “such an incident would happen during my wedding party.”
As survivors buried victims of the attack, an infant’s milk bottle and an invitation card could be seen near one of the hotel’s walls, badly damaged by the blast.
The attack comes as the US and Taliban close in on a peace deal which would lead to the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, nearly 18 years after the Taliban were ousted. The group immediately distanced themselves from the attack and strongly condemned it.
Elmi’s father-in-law lost 14 members of his family, while another man lost three of his sons, four nephews and five of his aunt’s grandchildren, according to survivor accounts.
“My family and my bride are in shock, they cannot speak. My bride keeps fainting. I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again,” he said. All five members of the wedding’s music band were killed. The groom and bride’s families, like many of those attending the ceremony, belonged to poor families.  
None of the guests were government officials sought by Daesh or other militant groups.

Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely.

Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, Lawmaker

Many of the victims were children and young men. The hotel had no guards and guests were not body searched, according to survivors.
Shi’ite cultural centers and an anti-government protest have all recently come under attack, but Sunday’s wedding blast was the first of its kind, evoking a reaction from President Ashraf Ghani. He blamed Daesh for the incident. “I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul. My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation, I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred. “The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide a platform for terrorists,” he tweeted.
Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, a lawmaker, said the attack exposed the government’s weakness.
“Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely,” he told Arab News.