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
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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.


Somali militant-turned-politician arrested before regional vote

Updated 13 December 2018
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Somali militant-turned-politician arrested before regional vote

MOGADISHU: A former senior Somali militant leader was arrested on Thursday, the government said, less than a week before he was scheduled to run for a regional presidency.
The government accused Muktar Robow, who defected from the extremist Al-Shabab movement last year, of “organizing a militia” in Baidoa, the capital of the southwestern Bay region, and seeking to “undermine stability.”
“These actions indicate that he never relinquished his extremist ideologies and is ready to harm the Somali people again,” the government said in a statement.
Authorities had been attempting to prevent Robow from standing in the December 19 election because he remains subject to US sanctions for his time as deputy leader of Shabab.
The Al-Qaeda affiliate Shabab has been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government for more than a decade.
Police sources speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that Robow had been arrested in Baidoa and taken to the capital Mogadishu.
Baidoa residents told AFP that hundreds of supporters took to the streets in protest of the detention of Robow, who enjoys the support of several clans and is regarded as a serious candidate for the region’s leader.
Sporadic gunfire was heard in the city, the residents said.
“This is a violation of democracy, Robow was standing in his region and his people wanted him. The government has no right to arrest him, this will lead to violence,” said Mohamed Sheik Ali, a Baidoa resident told AFP.
“The people are burning tires and the police are firing gunshots to disperse them. There is gunfire and there are casualties as well,” said Osman Adan, another witness.
“Armed militia and supporters of Robow have reportedly clashed with the police and the situation in town is tense as we speak,” he added.
Robow’s run for office has exposed the tensions between Somalia’s federal states, which want greater autonomy from a national administration keen to safeguard its central powers.
Robow defected from the Shabab in August last year. For a time the US government had offered a $5 million (4.4 million euro) bounty for his capture.
In 2013 Robow split from former Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and sought refuge in the nearby region of Bakool, without completely breaking off links to the group.
Forced out of Mogadishu in 2011, the Shabab have since lost the bulk of their strongholds though they still control vast swathes of mainly rural zones from where they launch guerilla operations on government, security and civilian targets.