The six would-be terrorists who planned to attack a far-right demonstration using knives, machetes and a homemade bomb were reacting to violence and intimidation aimed at provoking the UK’s Muslim population, a court has heard. In mitigation, Joel Bennathan QC, defending, said the six men, who have already pleaded guilty to plotting an attack on an English Defence League (EDL) demonstration in Dewsbury last year, were amateurish and “hopelessly incompetent”. He told the Old Bailey on Friday that although the “great bulk” of the Muslim community had the sense to ignore the activities of the EDL, this group – who were “not particularly intellectual” – reacted to a series of EDL demonstrations targeting Muslim areas that were provocative, insulting and intimidating.
Omar Khan, 28, Mohammed Saud, 23, Jewel Uddin, 27, Zohaib Ahmed, 22, and Anzal Hussain, 25, pleaded guilty at Woolwich crown court to engaging in preparation for acts of terrorism. A sixth man, Mohammed Hasseen, 23, pleaded guilty to the same offence and possessing a document likely to be of use to a person preparing or committing an act of terrorism.
The court heard the mission was only abandoned when the group turned up after the EDL demonstration had finished.
Earlier the court heard that the planned attack would have led “to a tit-for-tat spiral of violence and terror” that would have reverberated around the country if it had gone ahead.
Mr Bennathan said the EDL fitted in with a long tradition of right wing groups antagonising Muslims and that the incident was not so much a terrorist incident but a domestic dispute. Despite the use of Jihadist language in their note, he said: “This was undoubtedly a domestic bit of planned violence by young British men reacting to the calculated insults of other young British men.” He said the men had no intention to kill anyone and that the whole group now accept that everyone has a right to air their views whether insulting or not. He said: “There is an acceptance now that people living in a liberal democracy in the UK have a right to express views even if other people disagree with those views or find them upsetting.”
The court was told yesterday how the group wanted to start a race war with an army of young Muslim martyrs. The plot was only narrowly averted by the group’s own incompetence and sheer luck.