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London father-of-three 'helped his brother plot terror attacks in Somalia'

Evening Standard
Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A London father of three helped his brother plot attacks in Somalia and owned a terror manual written by one of al Qaeda’s most senior figures, a court heard today.

Mohammed Shabir Ali, 24, from Stepney, was accused of funding his brother Mohammed Shamim in “numerous ways” to travel to the east African country to fight and become a martyr.

Westminster magistrates also heard that he was found with a manual, 44 Ways to Support Jihad, written by extremist cleric Anwar al Awlaki — the man who inspired the Detroit underpants bomber and the woman who tried to stab to death East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

Today’s hearing came as 10 people, including the heads of Somalia’s Olympic and football federations, were killed by a girl suicide bomber in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The al Qaeda linked militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing, which took place at the newly reopened national theatre at an event also attended by Somali prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

The allegations against Ali were outlined by prosecutor Louise Gray, who said that he had helped his brother, who left the UK with two other men, to “commit acts of terrorism in Somalia” by raising cash to help fund his trip.

She said he had also been found with Awlaki’s manual during a raid by counter-terrorism police on his home in Stepney. It also led to the arrest of two other men, aged 24 and 30, and a 21-year-old woman, who all remain in police custody.

Shaven headed Ali sat with his hands in his pocket while the charges of assisting another to commit acts of terrorism and possessing a terror manual were read out.

The offences were allegedly committed between 20 August 2008 and 21 June last year. He did not enter a plea and spoke only to confirm his name and address.

He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 20 April after District Judge Caroline Tubbs refused an application for bail.

Unemployed Ali, whose three children are aged four, two and 18 months, was supported at court by his wife and other family members, one of whom saluted him as he walked in.

The terror manual allegedly found in his possession was written by American-born Awlaki, who was killed last year in a drone strike after leading al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

His teachings were said to have influenced Mohammed Merah who carried out a spate of shootings in south-west France last month. He killed seven people, including children, before he was shot by police.

The acts by a lone al Qaeda terrorist  fits the profile of a new generation of Islamist terrorists who are now regarded as posing a major security threat to the West.

Awlaki, whose perfect command of English made him a highly effective al Qaeda propagandist, regularly posted sermons on the internet urging his followers to carry out attacks against Western “infidels” using any means at their disposal.

In Britain, his sermons were blamed for the attack on Mr Timms at his constituency surgery in May 2010, when Roshonara Choudhry, 21, tried to stab him to death with a kitchen knife.

British security officials have also broken up several al Qaeda plots in which militants were planning to attack crowded shopping centres with primitive explosives.

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed that two men and a woman remain in custody as part of the investigation into the offences allegedly committed by Ali and have not yet been charged.


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