Guilty: First Scots Islamic Terrorist Facing 15 Years
A young Muslim was last night facing up to 15 years in jail after his conviction as Scotland’s first home-grown Islamic terrorist.
Mohammed Siddique, 21, from Alva, Clackmannanshire, was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow of being a “wannabe suicide bomber” who provided training material useful to terrorists via websites he set up and ran. He had accessed password-protected websites used only by the most senior of players in al Qaeda’s online operation.
Security sources claimed yesterday the former computing student was also involved in plans to detonate a truck bomb in a shopping mall in Canada and had been held at Glasgow Airport to prevent him from linking up with a Canadian terror cell.
However, police attempted to forestall any backlash against Scotland’s Muslims, insisting Siddique’s conviction was for individual criminal acts and did not reflect on the wider community.
Assistant chief constable Maureen Brown of Central Scotland Police, who was in charge of Operation Niche, which led to Siddique’s arrest 18 months ago, said the case showed terrorism was no longer a threat Scotland could ignore.
She said: “This case and other recent events have shown that terrorism is not just an issue for the major cities in England. The threat is with us now, it’s real and we should all take responsibility for helping to tackle it.”
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: “The successful conviction of the individual today in Glasgow is a reminder that the threat we face from terrorism is real and not isolated to any particular region.”
The court heard Siddique had distributed training documents, including bomb-making and weapons assembly, and al Qaeda propaganda video messages recorded by Osama bin Laden, urging attacks against British and US targets. They were described during his four-week trial as a “call to arms for Muslims”.
Siddique had denied three charges under the Terrorism Act 2000 and one under the Terrorism Act 2006, claiming his hoard of jihadist material was collected for “research”. He was also found guilty of a breach of the peace for threatening to become a suicide bomber and showing fellow students at Glasgow Metropolitan College video clips showing people being beheaded.
Judge Lord Carloway said the court would take the offences “extremely seriously” and warned Siddique that he was considering an extended term when sentencing takes place on October 23 at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Siddique sat motionless and looked straight ahead as the guilty verdicts were returned. His family wept in the court.
Outside, Siddique’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar, said the verdict was a “tragedy for justice and freedom of speech” and that they were considering an appeal. He said: “Today Mohammed Atif Siddique was found guilty of doing what millions of young people do every day: looking for answers on the internet.”
Siddique was arrested at Glasgow Airport in April 2006. He had been under surveillance for several months. He was about to board a flight to Lahore in Pakistan. His tickets and laptop computer were seized.
The case did not include charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation or allegations that he was directly involved in a terrorist plot. However, security sources said yesterday he was stopped because of intelligence that he planned to travel via Pakistan to Canada and carry out a terrorist atrocity in Ontario.
The plan was discovered by police monitoring online exchanges with a terrorist suspect from England who cannot be named for legal reasons but is thought to have been a major recruiter of Islamic extremists in the UK.