From Scots college to jihad - first man in UK convicted over terrorist propaganda

A PAKISTANI man who travelled to Britain to study at a Scottish university yesterday became the first person in the UK to be convicted of spreading terrorist propaganda.

A court heard Abdul Rahman, 25, acted as a recruiting sergeant who tried to persuade British Muslims to join in a "holy war".

He arrived in the UK in September 2004 on a student visa - ostensibly to study biotechnology at Abertay University in Dundee - but left the city after only one day. Rahman later claimed he was "unable to settle in this culture".

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Moving to Manchester, he joined a radical cell who believed in fighting a holy war and viewed people who did not believe in their particular brand of Islam as "legitimate targets", the court was told.

"He joined up with a group of young men, some of them fellow Pakistan nationals, some of them radical British Muslims," Parmjit Cheema, prosecuting, told the court.

"What this group, particularly this defendant, were involved in, we say was scouting, recruiting and encouraging others to join their philosophy of extreme jihad or holy war."

The group saw the fighting in Afghanistan as an unjust assault on Muslims and believed in the need to recruit fighters and resources for the conflict.

"In essence, they were a group, or cell of young men all espousing the radical jihad philosophy that states non-believers in Islam are legitimate targets," Ms Cheema said.

At Manchester Crown Court yesterday, Rahman pled guilty to possessing articles for the purpose of terrorism; dissemination of terrorist propaganda; and aiding or abetting the breach of a control order.

He had faced the more serious charge of assisting another to commit or prepare a terrorist act, which carries a maximum life sentence on conviction. However, under a plea-bargain deal, he confessed to the three other charges after the judge, Clement Goldstone, indicated he would only be jailed for a maximum of six years.

While in Manchester, Rahman became friends with Aslam Awan, 25, another Pakistani-born man who came to the UK on a student visa.

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Awan went to fight in Afghanistan and sent back a letter to Rahman, which was described as a call to arms. Awan is now excluded from entering the UK. The letter talked about the "fragrance of blood" from the battlefield. Describing a firefight with coalition forces in Afghanistan, Awan said: "The second time was a very big job ... in which our three friends were martyred."

Awan's letter was to be passed to others to "spread the word" for their cause and recruit more people to fight in Afghanistan.

"We have to do this work even with our last drop of blood. Please do migrate and encourage others to migrate too. Please invite everybody towards this cause," it said.

More propaganda material was found on DVDs and CDs at Rahman's address in Manchester. It included a speech by Osama bin Laden interspersed with photos of the 9/11 attack, dead Muslim children and the "betraying criminals" - George Bush, the US president, Tony Blair and Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president.

A 177-page manual, entitled "Organisation and Conduct of Guerrilla Warfare" and another, "How can I train myself for Jihad", was found along with information on jobs and careers in the British security services.

Abertay University confirmed that an Abdul Rahman had enrolled in a course in September 2004 but "appeared to have left the course very soon afterwards".

At the time, universities did not have to inform the authorities if a foreign citizen on a student visa stopped attending classes, but this was made a requirement this year.


POLICE yesterday released a video showing two training trips to the Lake District that were led by Abdul Rahman and a close associate, Muhammed Iqbal.

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In one segment, two men dressed in dark clothing can be seen crawling across a hillside in the Great Langdale area, appearing to fire imaginary guns.

A commentary on the video - which was filmed by the group - describes them as "commandos from special services, the Mujahidins" and says they are "heading very fast towards the enemies... sights are up".

Iqbal, 27, visited his Pakistan homeland in December 2006 and while there was given an exclusion order preventing him from returning to the UK.

Former law chief rebuffs case for extending detention time

GORDON Brown's controversial proposals to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects were hit with a fresh blow yesterday when a former attorney general said that he had seen no evidence to justify going beyond 28 days.

Lord Goldsmith, who left the government in the summer, also confirmed he had privately opposed Tony Blair's attempts to introduce a 90-day limit - and would have quit had they been approved by parliament.

Lord Goldsmith told MPs: "I am sure the reasons for making proposals are based on a genuine belief that it is the right thing to do in protecting the country.

"I do not take the view that, if the proposal was to extend to 56 days, that that is justified by the evidence."

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