This Is Hertfordshire : Ministry of Sound bomb supsect was brother's 'gopher'

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ministry of Sound bomb supsect was brother's 'gopher'

By Ruth Holmes | November 8, 2006

THE youngest suspect in an alleged bomb plot targeting a London nightclub and shopping centre was dragged into it unwhittingly by his brother, his barrister claimed.

Shujah Mahmood, 19, was "used as a gopher" by his older brother Omar Khyam, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC told the Old Bailey.

She said the younger of the pair was ignorant of the alleged UK-wide fertiliser bomb plot which had the Ministry of Sound in London and the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent in its sights.

Baroness Kennedy, defending, told the court Mr Mahmood had learning problems and was considered backward at school.

She said: "He was a low achiever, not a learner - someone who lived in the shadow of his older brother."

The lawyer said the pair's mother had charged the older brother with looking after his younger sibling, who was 16 at the time of the alleged plot.

The brothers, from Crawley, West Sussex, deny accusations that they conspired with five others to set off the explosions.

But the prosecution claims the men were part of a cell which had links to al-Qaeda.

The seven defendants were arrested after more than half a ton of fertiliser was found at a storage depot in Hanwell, west London in March, 2004.

A tin containing aluminium powder, also used for making explosives, was found near a shed at the brothers' family home.

Mr Mahmood's fingerprints showed up on a plastic bag found in the tin but he told the jury one of the bags had contained a pair of trainers he had bought.

He said: "There is a cupboard in mum's kitchen where she puts bags. It must have come from that."

The brothers face charges of conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life between January 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004. Others charged are Waheed Mahmood, 34, and Jawad Akbar, 23, of Crawley; Salahuddin Amin, 31, from Luton, Bedfordshire; Anthony Garcia, 24, of Barkingside, east London; and Nabeel Hussain, 21, of Horley, Surrey.

Mr Khyam, Mr Garcia and Mr Hussain are also charged under the Terrorism Act of possessing 600kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser for terrorist activity. They have denied the allegations.