Three British Muslims, including a convert who was featured in a documentary about radical Islam and a former London police support officer, were jailed Thursday in London for traveling to Pakistan for terrorism training.
Richard Dart, Imran Mahmood and Jahangir Alom pleaded guilty last month. Prosecutors said that in addition to traveling to Pakistan for training between 2010 and 2012, the trio went to extensive lengths to try to evade surveillance, discussed making explosives and referenced Wootton Bassett – which for years served as a military repatriation town – as a possible target.
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Dart, who had appeared in a BBC documentary that chronicled the efforts of his filmmaker stepbrother to understand why he had embraced an uncompromising form of Islam, refused to stand for sentencing Thursday at London's Old Bailey Court.
Dart, then and now
"I believe ruling and judging is only for Allah," Dart, 30, told the court. Dart – a former BBC security guard who also featured in a YouTube video in which he criticized the British royal family, the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton and UK foreign policy – was jailed for six years.
Alom, a 26-year-old former police support officer who appeared in an online video expounding hard-line beliefs, was sentenced to four years. Mahmoud, 22, received more than nine years.
In sentencing, Judge Peregrine Simon told the three they had shown themselves to be "committed to acts of terrorism."
He said he did not think either Dart or Mahmoud had ruled out an attack on the UK and that the latter was looking to arm himself with a bomb.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, from Scotland Yard's counterterrorism command, said the three men were "clearly aware" of anti-surveillance techniques and had expressed a desire to carry out terror attacks.
"These are dangerous men," he said, noting that Mahmoud had received terrorist training in Pakistan and suggested he had knowledge of how to make home-made explosives, while Dart and Alom made "great efforts" to travel to Pakistan and seek training from terrorist groups."
Prosecutor Mark Topping said that while the men did not identify any specific targets for an attack, "their determination and intent were very clear."
He said police had found high-explosive residue on Mahmoud's backpack when he was searched at an airport in 2010 after returning from Pakistan.
Computer experts also retrieved text that Dart and Mahmoud typed out on the laptop in front of them as they sat together and communicated, "presumably because they feared that any conversation would be overheard," Topping added.
The three were arrested last July, shortly before the start of the London Olympics.
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