Birmingham terror plot: Bugging car helped to nail the plotters

Irfan Khalid,  Irfan Naseer and Ashik Ali were all found guilty. Picture: PA
Irfan Khalid, Irfan Naseer and Ashik Ali were all found guilty. Picture: PA
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ON 15 SEPTEMBER, 2011, the security services listened to a conversation between the men in one of the cars they had bugged.

Irfan Naseer was discussing with Irfan Khalid whether to involve a particular friend in the plans, and whether this was a good idea, given the amount of “stuff” they would need to produce.

NASEER: “No, no, you know what I was thinking Irfan? There’s no point getting [the friend] involved. Look, imagine down the line. We already have six at the moment, yeah. Imagine [another man] joins us then [third man], then eight. How you gonna make stuff for eight [people]? You can’t, man.”

KHALID: “Yeah, the smaller the better, remember what they said.”

The next day, the men talk about using timers, rather than recruits.

NASEER: “Other way is, innit, alarm clock. One timed explosion, you know, say for example you set the alarm for one hour. After one hour, it’s gonna blow.”

As the conversation continued, Ashik Ali asked Naseer about the effects of a 1kg timed bomb.

NASEER: “1kg will make kuffars’ [disbelievers’] pishab [urine] come out. Probably die of heart attack because of the noise it makes. You put this on Tennyson Road and you put it in the middle … both ways, people at both ends would be harmed.”

ALI: “Would anyone be killed?”

NASEER: “Look, this is Tennyson Road, Masjid [mosque] over there, yeah. You put the thing right in the middle and people are there and standing there and there and there … you probably kill about five people there, ten people there, you probably kill about 25 people with 1kg. And the Masjid would probably be shattered as well.”

ALI: “How we gonna carry, take it?”

NASEER: “In a rucksack. The aim is 10[kg]. Twenty is too much. You know, I’ll struggle carrying it man. Seven or eight of them in different places with timers on … for, like, the same time. Probably to go boom, boom, boom everywhere.”


In one bugged conversation, Naseer and Khalid were talking about the al-Qaeda training camp they attended in Pakistan – and how they had hid for four hours from an American drone flying overhead.

NASEER: “This was a funny day, yeah, what happened, is this happens, is an Arab teacher, there’s one Pakistani guy, AQ guy …”

KHALID: “These guys got balls man.”

NASEER: “We were just about to, about to set it off [test an explosive], innit, and the drones come on top of us.”

[Khalid makes the noise of a drone]

NASEER: “Everyone looked at each other. They go …you know what, split yeah. So … they go lay underneath the tree and its about 45 degrees Celsius, yeah. They made us lie underneath the tree for four and a half hours without moving bro. Underneath the tree, the drone can’t detect you, innit. So I’m lying underneath the tree, innit, and the drones are right about me bro, and it’s going [makes a drone sound] and I’m thinking any minute it’s going to fire a missile.”

KHALID: “I just went to sleep. It’s a nasty situation to be in, man.”


On 11 September, 2011, the men were driving through Small Heath in Birmingham and had the following discussion:

KHALID: “Is there any graveyards apart from Handsworth round here? For Muslims?”

ALI: “Not hardly enough.”

NASEER: “Why? You wanna go there?”

KHALID: “Nah, I’m just thinking … most likely it’ll be Handsworth, if there’s a body left. The erm … [Laughter]. It’s funny, innit?”

NASEER: “One thing, one thing, remember, once, that once you done, it doesn’t matter where you get buried, innit.”


On 17 September, Naseer and Khalid told a member of their inner circle about the suicide videos they had recorded and left behind at the training camp. The recruit asked them about the tone of voice they had used in the recording.

NASEER: “I was not shouting.”

KHALID: “But I was a bit harsh.”

NASEER: “Like, one part we’re: ‘You people think that by making these cartoons of the prophet … only thing you will achieve is suicide bombers on your streets, spilling so much blood that you will remember. You’ll have nightmares for the rest of your miserable lives’.”

KHALID: “We left message to our family as well.”

NASEER: “Don’t worry about me, I’m alive. Martyrs are alive, yeah.”

KHALID: “You know 
something … this is revenge for everything. What we’re doing is another 9/11.”


On 8 September, the men were in one of their cars and discussed when its tax and MOT would expire.

NASEER: “Taxed till June, innit Ashik?”

ALI: “Yeah, no.”

NASEER: “Did you check it?”

ALI: “MOT is still, aah, July, June, July.”

KHALID: “Yeah we’re dead by then… we’re probably out of here by next June, brother.”


During a police interview following his arrest in September 2011, Ashik Ali told detectives about plans to get hold of guns and a possible target of soldiers.

INTERVIEWING OFFICER (IO): “What were you gonna do with a gun?”

ALI: “I’d shoot people.”

IO: “Your, your plan was to have a suicide vest and shoot people?”

ALI: “ Yeah.”

IO: “And where was this gonna happen?”

ALI: “That didn’t really plan, that didn’t. That was in May, April. Soldiers and that. But that was an idea in the head; that was what they wanted to do, but nothing actually took place.”

IO: “So, the plan was to have a suicide vest, a gun. Have you got a gun?”

ALI: “No, I haven’t.”