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Abu Hamza and the Islamic Army

   

Suspects in the Aden 'bomb plot'
December 1998

Text last updated 13 February 1999

 

TEN young men from Britain are now on trial in Yemen as suspected terrorists.

They have been charged with "membership of an armed group and possession of weapons, explosives and unauthorised international communications devices, as well as starting to commit acts of sabotage against Yemeni and foreign interests in Aden." Nine of the accused have denied all charges. One - the 17-year-old son of Abu Hamza al-Masri - has admitted membership of an armed group.

Six of the 10 were arrested in Aden on December 23/24. The other four were arrested on January 27 (along with two others who are now on trial in Zinjibar for kidnapping 16 western tourists) following a siege in a mountainous part of Abyan province.

Eight of the 10 on trial in Aden have British nationality. The other two were living in Britain but are believed to be Algerians - though they entered Yemen using false French passports.


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BUTT, Shahid (aged 33):

Born: 25 November 1965, in Pakistan. Came to Britain at the age of four months. Grew up in the Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath areas of Birmingham, where he helped in the family’s grocery store in his spare time.

He attended a business studies course at Birmingham Polytechnic and also worked part-time for DFS during that time. Later held various clerical jobs, including Allied Dunbar (as a claims handler) and Legal & General.

He has been married to his wife, Ruby, for 10 years, and they have four children.

Friends say he was involved in voluntary work, setting up a youth club at Birmingham Central Mosque and working in an anti-drugs project in the Walford Road and Alum Rock areas. They say that three years ago he joined the Convoy of Mercy charity as a projects coordinator. This organisation sends humanitarian aid to emergency areas. He set up a second-hand clothes project to raise funds for the charity.

The Sunday Telegraph (17.1.99) said that he worked for Islamic Relief, a charitytransporting clothes and money to Bosnia, which he first visited about four years ago. A Bosnian Muslim military commander claimed he fought with a group of mujahidin in April 1994, but there is no independent corroboration (Sunday Times, 17.1.99).

Regarded by friends as a strict Muslim. Occasionally seen in Birmingham with Sarmad Ahmad.

His family say he left for Yemen in the last week of November, 1998, planning to return no later than a week before Eid (January 18). He was arrested at al-Wafa hotel in Aden, where he was sharing a room with Harhara and Ahmad.

According to the Yemenis, he admitted knowing and having dealings with Harhara before his arrival in Yemen, and said Harahara had encouraged him to go to Yemen to meet some religious men and sheikhs. Allegedly, he also knew Abu al-Hassan and had been his guest in Shabwa for two days.

Has subsequently withdrawn his confession. Says he was blindfolded and beaten (Independent, 12.1.99).


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HARHARA, Malik Nasser Fadl (aged 26):

Born: 22 September 1972, in Yemen. Came to Britain at the age of two months. Grew up in Birmingham. Has dual British and Yemeni nationality.

He spent five years at Westminster University where he graduated with a BSc in information systems engineering. During his studies, he worked part-time at Garretts Green Bakery. After graduation, he was unable to find work in his field and, according to his family, decided to go to Yemen with his mother for an extended holiday to meet relatives from his father’s side. They say he had not been back to Yemen until then.

Friends say that he and his mother flew to Yemen on July 3, 1998, with his mother paying for the tickets. Friends say they stayed with relatives in Yafa'i and Aden, until his mother had to return because of family commitments on August 20. He was planning to return to Britain on January 18.

He was described by the Yemeni army newspaper as "a former officer among the group of separatists who fled to London in the aftermath of the 1994 war" ("26 September", 14.1.99).

Yemeni authorities claim that he played a pivotal role in the alleged bomb plot (Sunday Times, 17.1.99). He is reported to have arrived in Aden on December 9 and checked into the al-Wafa hotel (The Times, 5.1.99).

He allegedly met Abu Hamza, who sent him to the Huttat camp in Yemen for training in use of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and construction of bombs using TNT. He is said to told Yemeni investrigators that Abu al-Hassan $2,000 (£1,200) in cash to teach some of the Britons how to fire rifles and prime explosives at the Huttat camp.

On December 23, Harhara allegedly met Abu al-Hassan at a petrol station in Abyan where a Daewoo car was loaded with weapons and explosives. According to the Yemenis, he then drove the car to Aden, accompanied by Ahmed and Butt. They allegedly parked the car in a slum district of Aden then returned to the al-Wafa hotel, where they were arrested about two hours later.

Has subsequently withdrawn his confession. Told British consul "I have not been tortured or abused" (Sunday Times, 17.1.99).

He is said to be a non-practising Muslim.


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HUSSEIN, Ghulam (aged 25):

Born: 22 November 1973. From Luton. Pakistani origin. Studied engineering for one year at Dunstable College, then business at Luton University. Has been working as a security officer with ATLAW Security in Luton for the past year.

Married for six years to Monica Davis, aged 24, with a 20-month-old daughter. He suffers from asthma.

According to his wife, he travelled to Yemen on his own on December 18, and she had been planning to join him there  later (Times, 12.1.99). The family say this was because Monica had some exams to re-sit and also because she wanted him to check if the weather would be suitable for her (she has eczema).

His wife says: "My husband is a quiet family man who is not even active in the community, let alone in politics. We have saved up for two years to go on a family holiday during Ramadan and he'd gone out before me. When he telephoned I was to join him. We chose Yemen because it has a nice seaside." (Daily Telegraph, 9.1.99)

It has also been reported that they wanted to improve their Arabic in Yemen, having heard from Leeds University that it was a good place to learn.

According to the Yemenis, Ghulam Hussein admitted meeting Abu al-Hassan five days after his arrival, along with Ahmad, Butt and Harhara. Arrested in Sakhra hotel. Allegedly said he knew Abu Hamza, having met him in the Newton district of Birmingham.

Has subsequently withdrawn his confession.


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AHMAD, Sarmad (aged 21):

Born: 11 June 1977. From Yardley district of Birmingham. Passed nine GCSEs and three A-Levels (geography, history, general studies). Studying accountancy at Kingston University; also working part-time as a security guard.

Occasionally seen in Birmingham with Butt.

The mobile phone number of a man named Sarmad was given on the Internet as the contact for SOS military training at Finsbury Park mosque. The present user of the phone says he bought it from a man named Sarmad who is currently in Yemen. SOS leader Abu Hamza disputes identity of arrested man.

According to the Yemenis, Sarmad Ahmad admitted knowing Abu Hamza and attending study sessions organised by him.

He left for Yemen via London on December 18 and checked into al-Wafa hotel, Aden, on December 19. Supporters say he went to Yemen for a month’s holiday and possibly attend a friend’s wedding there; in addition, he was hoping to pick up some Arabic. They say he paid for the ticket with savings from his part-time job, and with contributions from his family.

He allegedly met Abu al-Hassan for the first time when he arrived in Aden, and then twice on December 23.

Says he was hung upside down and beaten (Independent, 12.1.99). Has subsequently withdrawn his confession.


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GHAILAN, Muhsin (aged 18):

Born: 11 July 1980. From Hammersmith, London.

Engineering student. Family of Moroccan origin. Abu Hamza says he has a stepson with this name, but disputes identity of arrested man (The Times, 12.1.99). Ghailan's aunt, Susan Faoud, denies he had any links with SOS or Abu Hamza; she says he had travelled widely and was visiting Yemen to broaden his mind. She also told The Times (12.1.99) she was engaged to a French-born man who was also arrested in Yemen.

According to the Yemenis, Ghailan said he last met Abu al-Hassan on December 23 in Abyan along with Butt. Allegedly said Abu al-Hassan asked for the meeting and discussed with them the implementation of the bombing operation and the targets.

The Yemeni army newspaper claimed Ghailan admitted knowing Abu Hamza and said he had met him twice in Britain; he said the SOS office funded his journey to Yemen and also paid $2,000. Asked about his religious denomination, he said he had none ("26 September", 14.1.99).

Has subsequently withdrawn his confession. Says he was beaten during first week in detention (Independent, 12.1.99).

He is said be non-Muslim.


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"AL-JAZA'IRI"

Carried a French passport and was originally named as "Abdharam James", aged 25. The Yemenis say he is Algerian and his real name is Abd al-Rahman Said 'Amr. He has also been referred to as "Ali Muhsin".

The French foreign ministry established that he was not French and was using someone else's passport. The original holder of the passport says he lost it.

Al-Jaza'iri says that he came to Britain from Algeria in 1997. He applied for political asylum and handed in his Algerian passport to the British authorities who provided him with a house and £80 a fortnight as a political refugee.

According to the Yemenis, al-Jaza'iri initially told them he had bought the French passport in France for FF2,000. Later, he is alleged to have said that he obtained it in Britain through one of Abu Hamza's supporters who was of Tunisian origin and had French nationality.

There have been suggestions in the British press that he may previously have been connected with the French Foreign Legion, though no evidence of this has been published.

Muhsin Ghailan's aunt earlier claimed to be engaged to him.


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MUSTAPHA, Muhammad Kamil

Aged 17. Son of Abu Hamza. One of six men arrested on January 27 after siege of a mountain hideout in Shabwa. Yemeni authorities claim he was involved in the Aden "bomb plot" but fled after a tip-off. His passport was seized during the police raids on December 23/24. Abu Hamza originally claimed he had gone to Saudi Arabia, but later said he might have gone to Yemen to get married.


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NABI, Shazad

British. One of six men arrested on January 27 after siege of a mountain hideout in Shabwa. Yemen claims he was implicated in the December "bomb plot".

Said to be a cousin of Iyaz Hussein.


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HUSSEIN, Iyaz

British. One of six men arrested on January 27 after siege of a mountain hideout in Shabwa. Yemen claims he was implicated in the December "bomb plot".

Said to be a cousin of Shiraz Nabi.


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SAGHIR, Kamal Ali Muhammad  ("Abu Ali")

Algerian. Came to Britain in 1997 and applied for political asylum. Carried a French passport in the name of "Ali Muksin". Also referred to as "Kamal Barakan".

He says he came to Yemen from Britain on November 28, entering via Aden.


Also arrested on January 27: a Yemeni and a Tunisian who are both alleged to have been involved in the kidnapping of 16 tourists on December 28.

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AL-JUNAIDI, Abdullah ("Abu Hadhifa")

Yemeni. One of six men arrested on January 27 after siege of a mountain hideout in Shabwa. On trial in Zinjibar in connection with the kidnapping of 16 western tourists.

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AHMAD, Muhammad  ("Abu Huraira")

Tunisian. One of six men arrested on January 27 after siege of a mountain hideout in Shabwa. On trial in Zinjibar in connection with the kidnapping of 16 western tourists.

Denies kidnapping; says he was there as an interpreter.

     

THE STORY

 

DAY BY DAY

A chronology

THE ADEN "BOMB PLOT"  

Introduction

What the police say they found

The accused

Statements attributed to the defendants

The verdicts  

British reactions 

THE ABYAN KIDNAPPING

Introduction

Who were the kidnappers?

The trial so far

The trial: basic facts

Statements attributed to defendants

Evidence: February 6

Witnesses: four Yemeni drivers

Witnesses: a soldier and a sheikh

 

THE PEOPLE

 

ABU HAMZA

ABU AL-HASSAN

The kidnappers

The bomb suspects

SOS newsletters
October/November, 1998

SOS communiqué
11 October, 1998 (Arabic)

SOS communiq
30 December, 1998 (Arabic)

SOS communiq
20 January, 1990 (English)

 

In the Yemen section

 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 


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Last revised on 10 June, 2009