A Muslim husband and wife convicted of planning a terror attack against Jews in Manchester, England, were jailed Friday.
Shasta Khan, who was convicted of preparing for acts of terrorism and two counts of possessing information likely to be useful in an act of terrorism, was sentenced to eight years in prison. The 38-year-old hairdresser, who had pleaded not guilty, will serve four years minus the 350 days she spent on remand.
Her husband Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, an unemployed car valet, was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection, which means that after a minimum of seven-and-a-half years, his position will be regularly reviewed by a parole board. He had pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorism.
The sentences “reflect the fact that Mohammed Sajid Khan was clearly the dominant character in this terror plot, and we hope he spends a long time behind bars,” said Mark Gardner, spokesperson for the Community Security Trust, an organization which provides security advice, infrastructure and manpower to British Jews. “We will never know if Shasta Khan would have turned to terrorism had she not married her husband.”
The Khans were in the early stages of building a home-made bomb, following instructions they found on the internet, when their plot was discovered in July 2011. Police had been called to their home in Oldham, greater Manchester, following a domestic dispute.
They had spent months scouting out potential Jewish targets in Manchester, including two synagogues and the Jewish Agency building.
They couple, who had met on the internet in 2010 and married just six weeks later, had become radicalized by material they read on the internet, including an English-language magazine published by an al-Qaeda affiliate.
Detective Chief Superintendent Anthony Mole, head of the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit, said: “It is impossible to say with any certainty what their exact endgame was or what their specific targets may have been because we arrested the couple before any such terrorist attack could be carried out. However, the overwhelming evidence suggests they were in the attack-planning stage of a terrorist act motivated by anti-Semitic beliefs.
“Clearly this will cause shock in not just Jewish communities but across Greater Manchester as a whole. What I want to stress is that we have found no evidence to suggest this couple were collaborating with anyone else. They were in fact acting totally alone. There is nothing to suggest any residual threat to our communities.
“What we must acknowledge is the dangers posed by the relatively easy access to online publications which contain instructions on how to make viable explosive devices from everyday household items, and how this can create ‘home-grown’ terrorists. The Khans did not need to travel to training camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan — the knowledge they needed to commit a terrorist act was available at the click of a few buttons from the confines of their own home. As the prosecution described it, this was ‘jihad at home’.”
During the trial at Manchester Crown Court, which lasted nearly a month, the jury heard that the couple began preparing an attack almost as soon as they married.
They downloaded a manual called “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom” from the Internet and, following its instructions, began gathering material for a homemade bomb. Material found in their home included Christmas tree lights adapted to make a detonator, electrical wires, safety goggles, a funnel, needles, syringes and chemicals such as bleach, acetone and peroxide liquid which Mrs. Khan used in her work as a hairdresser.
The prosecutors said that these could be combined within days into a bomb that could kill at least 10 people, and given more time, could be used to kill dozens.