July 7 accused were 'preparing to fly to Pakistan'

Two Leeds men accused of helping the July 7 bombers plan their attacks were arrested as they prepared to fly to a "terror training camp" in Pakistan, a court heard today.

Waheed Ali and Mohammed Shakil went shopping for outdoor equipment and had their hair cut short the day before they were due to leave, it is claimed.

A jury heard the men, who were being watched by police, were arrested on March 22 2007 at Manchester Airport as they were about to board their flight to Pakistan.

Ali, 25, Shakil, 32, and Sadeer Saleem, 28, all from Beeston, Leeds deny one charge of conspiring with the four bombers Mohammed Siddique Khan, Shezhad Tanweer, Jermaine Lindsay and Hasib Hussain, and others unknown, to cause explosions between November 17, 2004 and July 8, 2005.

The four suicide bombers killed 52 people and injured hundreds more when they set off a series of explosions on a bus and on Underground trains in London in 2005.

Ali and Shakil also deny a second charge of conspiracy to attend a place used for terrorist training.

The defendants are accused of going on a two-day reconnaissance mission to London on December 16 and 17 2004, where they pinpointed potential targets and visited the Natural History Museum, the London Eye and the London Aquarium.

Prosecutor Neil Flewitt QC, outlining the case to the jury at Kingston Crown Court, said today that although the defendants may not have been the "masterminds of the plan", they shared the same beliefs and motivation as the London bombers.

He said they "willingly and knowingly agreed to assist them" in their preparations by carrying out a "hostile reconnaissance".

The trial had heard that Ali had previously been on trips to Pakistan with July 7 ringleader Khan in 2001 and again, days after the London trip in December 2004, with Saleem while Khan and Tanweer were also in the country.

The court heard that on March 8 last year Ali, who had just changed his name by deed poll from Shipon Ullah, applied for a new passport - handing in his old one which had the visa pages ripped out.

The pages were later found inside a wardrobe at his sister's home in east London where he had been staying.

During preparations both Ali and Shakil had made internet searches relating to various parts of Pakistan, including Baluchistan which, the court heard, is regarded as the effective headquarters of the Taliban.

The day before the pair were due to travel they bought kit including heavy duty torches, Swiss army knives, special water containers, Gore-Tex gloves, water bottles, 20-a-pair socks, water purification tablets and covert body pouches.

Later they went to the same barber's shop and had their hair cut very short, it is alleged.

Mr Flewitt said: "In view of the equipment purchased by Ali and Shakil and the destinations that they were proposing to visit, you can be confident that they were not going to Pakistan for a holiday.

"They were, we suggest, going there to attend a terrorist training camp.

"They may have been lying low since the hostile reconnaissance of the 16-17 December 2004 and the events of July 7 2005 but their beliefs and intentions had not changed."

The court heard that following the arrest of Ali and Shakil, Saleem was arrested at his home later the same day.

They were interviewed at length over many days but declined to answer any questions.

The jury had previously been told in the aftermath of the bombings that two addresses in Leeds - 18 Alexandra Grove and 111 Chapeltown Road - were identified as the locations where the majority of the bomb construction and preparation took place.

Mr Flewitt said scientist Clifford Todd found that the four rucksack bombs comprised a main explosive charge of several pounds of a hydrogen peroxide and pepper which was kept cool with ice-packs - an improvised device unique within the UK and possibly worldwide.

The devices were subsequently triggered by the four bombers "working in concert" and Mr Todd believed they couldn't have produced the bombs without the help of other people, said Mr Flewitt.

He added: "Although there may be sufficient information, available on the internet and elsewhere to produce the basics of a plan such as this, Mr Todd seriously doubts that the four bombers could have conceived and executed it completely in isolation, particularly as regards the detailed and demonstrably very effective construction of the devices."

The jury was told that there were a number of links between the three defendants and the two "bomb factories", which Mr Flewitt suggested was the "final piece in the jigsaw to produce a compelling picture of their guilt".

Traces of Ali's DNA were found on the handle of a small Nike rucksack and on a hat inside it which was recovered from Alexandra Grove. His fingerprints were also on a chest of drawers inside the second address.

The DNA of Saleem, who is asthmatic, was found on an inhaler and further traces were recovered from a blood stain on a pair of martial arts trousers.

A car key for Shakil's Mitsubishi was also found in a carrier bag at the first property, the court was told.

The case was adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10.30am.

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