Terror trial pair flew to Pakistan after alleged London reconnaissance
- Peter Walker and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Monday April 14 2008. It was last updated at 16:31 on April 14 2008.
Two of the three men accused of helping some of the July 7 bombers to survey possible London targets flew to Pakistan within days of an alleged reconnaissance mission, a court was told today.
On their visa application, Waheed Ali and Sadeer Saleem claimed they were visiting a relative, jurors at Kingston crown court heard.
The journey to Pakistan coincided with a trip made by two of the July 2005 suicide bombers. The attacks on three London tube trains and a bus killed 52 people.
The jury was told that evidence from mobile phone calls before the trip to Pakistan showed it was “no coincidence” that the journey came around the same time as that made by the July 7 ringleader, Mohammed Siddique Khan, and his fellow bomber Shezhad Tanweer.
Ali, 24, from Tower Hamlets, east London, and Saleem, 27, from Beeston, Leeds, along with 31-year-old Mohammed Shakil, also from Beeston, deny conspiring with Khan, Tanweer, and the two other July 7 bombers, Jermaine Lindsay and Hasib Hussain, between November 17 2004 and July 8 2005.
On Friday, the court heard that the three accused men joined Hussain and Lindsay for a “hostile” reconnaissance mission in London on December 16 and 17 2004.
During the mission, they visited the Natural History Museum, the London Eye and the London Aquarium, the court was told.
The three do not deny visiting London or seeing Hussein and Lindsay, but claim it was a social and sightseeing visit.
Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, told the jury today that Ali and Saleem flew from Manchester airport to Islamabad nine days after going to London, and did not return to the UK until February 26.
Khan and Tanweer had travelled to Pakistan a month earlier, the court was told. They visited the Pakistani consulate in Bradford to submit their visa applications a day before Ali and Saleem did, Flewitt said.
On their applications, Ali and Saleem said they wanted to visit Saleem’s grandfather, Abdul Majeed, the jury heard, but he travelled to the UK less than two weeks after the pair had arrived in Pakistan.
“You will have to consider whether the reason given by Ali and Saleem for their trip to Pakistan was true of whether it was simply a cover for a trip that had some other purpose,” Flewitt said.
“Although we have no evidence of what they did while in Pakistan, it is, we suggest, no coincidence that they flew out fairly soon after their reconnaissance trip to London and while Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer were still there.”
He said the mobile telephone evidence showed “an unusually high
level of contact” between Ali and Tanweer in the days before Khan and Tanweer left the UK on November 18, telling the jury this “indicates a link between the respective trips to Pakistan”.
The prosecution also described how mobile phone records tracked the movements of Ali, Shakil and Saleem across London during their alleged reconnaissance mission.
Flewitt said calls were made on the mobile phones of the accused men to a series of numbers, including that of Lindsay, the London Tourist Board and the Natural History Museum.
He added that there was a clear overlap in the movements between the three bombers on the visit and the earlier trip to London carried out by the three defendants in December 2004, which was “an important part of the preparation for the events of July 7.”
Later, the jury was told that there were a number of links between the three defendants and a pair of addresses in Leeds used by the July 7 gang to make their hydrogen peroxide-based rucksack bombs.
This, Flewitt said, was the “final piece in the jigsaw to produce a compelling picture of their guilt”.
Traces of Ali’s DNA were found on a rucksack recovered from one address and a hat found inside it, while DNA evidence linking Saleem to the same place was found on an asthma inhaler and a pair of martial arts trousers.
A key for Shakil’s Mitsubishi car was found in a carrier bag at the same property, the court heard.
In addition, Ali’s fingerprints were found on the inside of a chest of drawers at the other Leeds address.