A MEMBER of a British Muslim terror cell tried to buy a nuclear bomb from the Russian mafia, it was claimed today.
The seven-man gang, all from London and the South-East, also considered blowing up the Bluewater shopping centre with conventional explosives, it is alleged.
One of them boasted: «A little explosion at Bluewater, tomorrow if you want.
I don’t know how big it would be, we haven’t tested it, but we could tomorrow – do one tomorrow.»
The seven deny conspiring between January 2003 and March 2004 to «cause by explosive substances, an explosion or explosions of a nature likely to endanger life».
Police caught three of them with 1,200lb of fertiliser which can be used to make bombs at a storage depot in Hanwell, west London, in 2004, the Old Bailey heard.
Another potential target was customers at «the biggest nightclub» in central London which was not named in court.
Their justification for this was that «no one can put their hands up and say they are innocent – those slags dancing around».
Other bombs could be aimed at destroying gas, water or electricity supplies across the country, the court heard.
Officers in MI5, Special Branch and Scotland Yard’s Anti-Terrorist Squad bugged the suspects in a massive surveillance operation.
The police swooped in March 2004 when plans were moving towards a «final phase», said David Waters prosecuting.
The jury heard how one of the defendants, Salahuddin Amin, had been approached by a man called Abu Munthir, whom he had met at a mosque in Luton, to contact a man about a nuclear device.
Amin was involved in discussions in Pakistan to buy a nuclear bomb in 2001, the court heard. Mr Waters, QC, said: «An indication as to the trust imposed in Amin and his position in the Pakistani end of the organisation is perhaps gained from the passing of information to him in relation to a radioisotope bomb.»
Abu Munthir asked Amin to contact a man named Abu Annis on Munthir’s behalf, said Mr Waters, adding: «Amin did so via the internet and Abu Annis said they had made contact with the Russian mafia in Belgium and from the mafia they were trying to buy this bomb.
«Amin told the police in interview that he didn’t believe this could be genuine. In his own words, he didn’t think it was likely ‘that you can go and pick an atomic bomb up and use it’.
«And indeed nothing appears to have come of this.
«However, as I say, it perhaps gives an indication as to Amin’s position in, and his usefulness to, the organisation.» Another defendant, Waheed Mahmood, was employed by a contractor for Transco, which runs the high voltage electricity system in England and Wales and the high pressure gas system in Britain.
He was recorded suggesting a bomb should be planted at Bluewater in Kent the following day, a Saturday. «A little explosion at Bluewater – tomorrow if you want,» he said.
Another defendant, Jawad Akbar, made the remark about «slags dancing round,» said Mr Waters.
The plots involved building a bomb with ammonium nitrate and aluminium powder and using remote radio transmissions to detonate it, the court heard.
Cell members are said to have trained in explosives at a camp in Pakistan and obtained 1,200lb of ammonium nitrate fertiliser for use against UK targets.
Earlier Omar Khyam, the man «at the centre of operations», emailed alleged plotter Mohammed Momin Khawaja in Canada.
They discussed how to make remote detonators. In January 2004 Khawaja – who is awaiting trial in Canada over the plot – emailed that the devices were working and he would come to the UK as soon as possible.
Defendants Khyam, 24, his brother Shujah Mahmood, 19, Waheed Mahmood, 34, and Akbar, 22, are all from Crawley.
With them in the dock are Anthony Garcia, 23, of Ilford, Nabeel Hussain, 20, of Horley, Surrey, and Amin, 31, from Luton.
All seven deny conspiring to cause explosions.
Khyam, Garcia and Hussain have also pleaded not guilty to a charge under the Terrorism Act of possessing an article for terrorism – the 1,200lb of ammonium nitrate fertiliser.
The case continues.
March 22, 2006