Irfan Naseer and co-conspirators planned attacks that could have been more devastating than 7/7 bombings. The ringleader has been jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years. Irfan Naseer, 31, was described by a judge on Friday as the “leader, driving force and man in charge” of the terror cell in Sparkhill, Birmingham, which planned to set off eight to 10 suicide bombs and timed explosive devices in crowded places. The other leaders of the cell, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, both 28, were handed jail terms of 18 years and 15 years respectively. Khalid, who boasted of creating “another 9/11”, was ordered to serve a minimum of 12 years, while Ali will serve 10 years before he can be considered for parole. Naseer’s plot had the blessing of al-Qaida and was intended to further the terror organisation’s aims. The judge took into account that Khalid, who was under the influence of his “inseparable” friend Naseer, had been found to be in the bottom 2%-5% in terms of cognitive ability. Chemistry graduate Naseer and Khalid, both from Sparkhill, had travelled to Pakistan twice for training – on the second occasion spending two months at an al-Qaida training facility in Miran Shah, north Waziristan, where they had to flee from US drone strikes. The group tried to fund their mission by posing as Muslim Aid charity street collectors in Sparkhill, raising £14,500 within two weeks. The cell’s chief financier, Rahin Ahmed, 26, from Moseley, pleaded guilty to collecting, investing and managing money for terrorism, and assisting others to travel to Pakistan for training in terrorism. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and will serve at least six before he can be released.
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