One of three men from Birmingham charged with planning a suicide bombing attack in the UK has told a jury he had pretended to be a terrorist as a defence because he felt under threat.
Irfan Naseer is on trial with Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali at Woolwich Crown Court. The three men deny between them a total of 12 terrorism charges. It is claimed they were planning at least eight bombings using rucksacks filled with explosives, in an attack described as being on a scale “potentially greater than 7/7”.
A total of 11 men and one woman were charged after a series of arrests in Birmingham in September last year. It followed a surveillance operation by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.
Covert bugs were placed in two cars and at a flat in Sparkhill rented by Ashik Ali, where the men are accused of planning their attacks and experimenting with making home made bombs.
Today under tight security, Naseer was questioned in the witness box and said that he had wanted people to think he was “a real terrorist”, “the real deal” because of rumours in the community that he was a member of the Pakistani Security Service. He told the court he had received threats, and was actively trying to deceive people into thinking he was a member of Al Qaeda.
Asked about a chemistry book found by police, he told the jury it was in his possession because of a keen interest in the topic. He said that his knowledge of bomb making came from the internet, searching for words like detonator and ammonium nitrate. When asked why he was researching these words he told the court he had had an interest in the topic since studying pharmacy at university and wanted to extend his knowledge.
When asked if the chemistry book was used to assist him or others to build bombs, he replied “No.”
Naseer was also asked about evidence from an army captain given during the trial earlier this month. He had suggested that some of the chemical details found showed “a real practical skill” not just theoretical knowledge of bomb making. Naseer denied this, telling the court that his in depth knowledge had come from watching dvds. He said he had never attempted to make a device, and had never watched anyone attempt to make one.
All three men deny all of the charges and the trial continues. It expected to conclude in January.