6 Jun 2013

Anti-EDL Muslim plotters sentenced at Old Bailey

EDL supporters mount a demonstration outside the Old Bailey as six jihadists are sentenced for a plot to attack a rally by the right-wing group.

This was the English Defence League’s moment to gloat outside the Old Bailey – on the opening of the sentencing hearing for six Birmingham Muslims who have pleaded guilty to conspiring to attack an EDL rally last year.

Their potential victims today came to pay their disrespects.

At one point their leader, Tommy Robinson, entered the public gallery to stare down on those in the dock who the prosecution said had planned to execute terrible vengeance.

The Crown said it would most likely have lead to a tit-for-tat spiral of violence and terror.

The target was an EDL march and rally in Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, a year ago. The intention was a violent and potentially deadly confrontation. The only reason it failed was because the jihadists arrived two hours late.

Careful planning

But, the prosecution said, this was not “a plan riddled with incompetence and amateurishness”. The six defendants spent at least eight weeks laying the groundwork for their attack. They watched 32 YouTube videos of an EDL demo. They took knives, a machete, two sawn-off shotguns and an IED – a hollowed out firework filled with nails and ballbearings.

They even laid out their aims in a press release found by the police after the failed attack:

“What we did today was a direct retaliation of your insulting of the Prophet Muhammed .. and also in retaliation of your crusade against Islam/Muslims on a global scale.”

But the early end to the EDL rally avoided the planned carnage.

Chance discovery

On the way back to Birmingham a traffic officer stopped one of the would-be attackers on the M1 motorway near Sheffield and then impounded his car for lack of insurance. Two days later, when the boot was opened, the weapons, the press release and the plot emerged.

This hearing could not have come at a more sensitive time. Following the Woolwich murder and Wednesday’s Islamic centre fire many are on edge. A CCTV still of the guilty jihadists leaving a mosque was changed to respect the mosque’s fears of reprisal attacks.

Sentences are due to be passed on Friday.