January 29, 2008 / 11:18 AM / 10 years ago

Briton admits plot to behead Muslim soldier

<p>Parviz Khan is seen in a police handout photo. REUTERS/West Midlands Police/Handout</p>

LEICESTER (Reuters) - A man has pleaded guilty to a plot to kidnap and kill a Muslim soldier in the British army by cutting off his head “like a pig”, a court was told on Tuesday.

Parviz Khan, 37, pleaded guilty this month to a series of charges including the beheading plot, which was foiled by police and the MI5 security service a year ago.

Media had been barred from reporting Khan’s plea until Tuesday when a trial of two other men opened in the central English city of Leicester.

A British and Pakistani passport holder, Khan was “a man who has the most violent and extreme Islamist views” and who wanted to get physically involved in acts of terrorism, prosecutor Nigel Rumfitt said.

He said Khan was “enraged” by the fact there were Muslims in the British army, which Islamist militants portray as fighting Islam in Afghanistan and Iraq, and formed a plan to kidnap a Muslim soldier in the central city of Birmingham.

With the help of drug dealers, the victim was to be seized while enjoying a night out and bundled into a car, Rumfitt said.

“He would be taken to a lockup garage and there he would be murdered by having his head cut off like a pig,” he said.

Prosecutors said the expression “like a pig” was Khan’s own.

He planned to tie up the victim, film his murder and release the video to Arab television station Al Jazeera, the jury was told, with the aim of sowing panic and fear in the British army and public.

“Young Blair is going to go crazy,” Khan was heard to say in a conversation bugged by British security services, referring to then prime minister Tony Blair.

Rumfitt said Khan had asked a Gambian man, Basiru Gassama, to help him find a suitable victim. There was no evidence Gassama had provided such help but he pleaded guilty this month to failing to disclose his knowledge of the plot to authorities.

BEHEADING PLOT

Another man, Amjab Mahmood, faces the same charge in the trial that opened on Tuesday. He and a co-defendant, Zahoor Iqbal, are charged with working alongside Khan and others to supply equipment to help militants on the Pakistan-Afghan border fighting Western coalition troops.

The men were “actively assisting terrorists who were trying to kill our soldiers, as well as those of our allies the United States and Canada”, Rumfitt said.

He said the shipments included sophisticated electronic and other equipment like computer hard drives, range finders, night vision gear and surveillance detectors. Some of the material was sent out under the guise of earthquake relief to Pakistan.

The jury was told how details of the beheading plot emerged from the bugging of Khan’s Birmingham home, where he lived with his wife, three children and elderly mother.

In a conversation at the end of 2006, Khan outlined to Mahmood two ways in which the soldier victim could be seized.

One way was “having a chitchat with him and winning his interest by the white stuff (cocaine), then afterwards we can ambush him or whatever”, Khan said in the bugged conversation.

The other way was “just tell us where he lives, we will sort it”. As the victim came out, three men would bundle him into a parked car. “It’s not going to take more than 30 seconds, it’s not as if we’re going to kill people there.”

Rumfitt said Mahmood should have told authorities but failed to do so. Iqbal is not charged in connection with the beheading plot. Two other men have pleaded guilty to lesser terrorism-related charges also unconnected to it.

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