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15/02/08 – News section

Teacher convicted for helping fanatic who plotted to behead British Muslim soldier

A fifth man was today convicted of involvement in a plot to kidnap and kill a British Muslim soldier and supply terrorists in Pakistan with equipment.

Zahoor Iqbal, 30, from Birmingham, was found guilty of one count of helping fanatic Parvis Khan supply equipment to militants close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border for terrorist activities.

Khan had pleaded guilty last month to plotting to seize the serviceman and behead him “like a pig” before broadcasting footage of the murder to terrorise the public. Three others had also previously-admitted being part of the plot and today Iqbal, who had denied his involvement, was convicted of helping Khan supply equipment including night vision goggles and radar detectors to Islamic militants.

Although Iqbal insisted he had only been aware of fleeces and thermal clothes being sent to help earthquake victims, prosecutors said he was fully aware that supplies were being sent to help terrorists.

They presented recordings of conversations between Iqbal and Khan in which the plot ringleader described how he wanted his three-year-old daughter to marry “men in the mountains” of Afghanistan.

Prosecution barrister Nigel Rumfitt QC said this referred to jihadi terrorists and said that the “sick� conversation was proof that Iqbal knew that he was helping to equip dangerous extremists.

Iqbal, who will be sentenced later, was cleared of a further charge of possessing a document likely to be useful to a terrorist – a computer disc entitled Encyclopedia Jihad. During the trial at Leicester crown court, Iqbal, a school attendance and mentoring officer, told jurors that he was a Muslim “but not practising” and that he did not pray. He said the invasion of Iraq “was the right thing to do” and called the September 11 attack on New York a “holocaust” in which innocent people died.

He claimed that he did not subscribe to Khan’s fanatical views and had no sympathy with the 7 July London bombers and denied that he had been suspicious about being asked to send cash to Khan in Pakistan, saying: “It was a regularly done thing in our community.”

Today’s conviction comes a fortnight after Khan, 37, pleaded guilty to plotting to kidnap and murder the soldier.

He also admitted supplying equipment to terrorists on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and being in possession of two records or documents likely to be of use to a terrorist.

Two other Birmingham men, Hamid Elasmar, 44, and Mohammed Irfan, 31, pleaded guilty before the trial to helping Khan send the shipments to the subcontinent. A fourth, Basiru Gassama, 30, admitted knowing about Khan’s kidnap plot but failing to tell the authorities.

The jury in today’s trial has still to reach a verdict on a charge that a sixth man, Anjam Mahmood, 32, also of Birmingham, knew about Khan’s plan to film the beheading of the soldier but failed to inform the authorities. It will continue deliberating on this charge on Monday, but cleared Mahmood today of a separate charge that he helped supply equipment.

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