July 7 suspects jailed for terrorism camp plans
LONDON (Reuters) - Two men cleared of helping to plot the London suicide bombings in July 2005 were jailed for seven years Wednesday for planning to attend terrorism training camps in Pakistan.
Mohammed Shakil and Waheed Ali, along with a third defendant Sadeer Saleem, were found not guilty Tuesday of helping the London bombers to scout potential targets in the capital after a retrial at Kingston Crown Court.
But Shakil, 32, and Ali, 25, were convicted of a second charge of conspiracy to attend a place used for terrorist training. They were both sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday, the Press Association reported.
"Your intention, but for your apprehension, was to attend a real camp and to use real guns in training at that camp," Judge Peter Gross said.
"This was not play acting and you were determined players, not naive dupes."
Detectives said Ali had gone to Pakistan with Mohammed Sidique Khan, the ringleader of the 7/7 bombings, in 2001.
They also said Shakil had undergone firearms training with Khan with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers in Pakistan in 2003 and that both were planning to go back to the country for training when they were arrested in 2007.
"Mohammed Siddique Khan and Mohammed Shakil told other attendees that their aim was to fight in Afghanistan," said John McDowall, head of the London police's Counter Terrorism Command.
"They were proficient in the use of and handling of terrorist weapons, and were certainly not enjoying a day out in a beautiful and mountainous area of Pakistan, as was suggested in court.
"Shakil himself accepted that the camp at Malakand was a serious business, whose purpose was to train willing volunteers to fight and kill in Afghanistan on behalf of the Taliban, a cause to which both he and Ali were, and remain, sympathetic."
The trial had heard that the three men were friends of the bombers, Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, Jermaine Lindsay and Hasib Hussain. They attended the same Mosque and gym in Beeston, northern England, where Khan, Tanweer and Hussain lived.
Prosecutors said that about seven months before the bombings, Shakil, Saleem and Ali spent two days in London with Hussain and Lindsay, visiting locations similar to those used on the day of the attacks, as part of a scouting mission.
But the men said they had been simply visiting tourist attractions and to allow Ali to visit his sister.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison and Angus MacSwan)
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