A BLACKBURN man who posed as the head of al Qaeda in Britain and called for the deaths of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair has pleaded guilty to a string of terrorist offences.
Ishaq Kanmi, 23, of Cromwell Street, posted messages on a jihadi website which declared the Prime Minister and his predecessor would be sought by 'martyrdom seekers' if his demands were not met.
Pretending to be Umar Rabie - the head of 'al Qaeda in Britain' - he issued a two-month deadline in January 2008 calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, together with the release of all Muslim 'captives' from Belmarsh Prison.
Over a series of months he spent up to nine hours a day at Black-burn Central Library researching and plotting, Manchester Crown Court heard. But he was unaware that counter terrorism police spent five months conducting covert surveillance of his activities after being alerted by a website moderator.
Kanmi was arrested at Manchester Airport as he waited to board a flight to Finland in August 2008. He had three electronic storage devices in his suitcase and was carrying a mobile phone all of which contained terror-related inform-ation which he intended to distr-ibute.
Today he pleaded guilty to professing to belong to al Qaeda and inviting support for the terror group. He also admitted collecting or making a record of information likely to be useful to a terrorist and three counts of disseminating terrorist publications.
Kanmi denied two counts of soliciting to murder Mr Brown and Mr Blair, which the Crown Prosecution Service said it was content to lie on file. Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, said inviting support for a 'murderous organi-sation' such as al Qaeda was a similar crime to soliciting to murder.The pleas brought a strong reaction from Muslim community leaders in Blackburn.
Coun Salim Mulla, the chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said Kanmi was a 'rotten apple' who had behaved in a 'completely unacceptable way'.
And Jack Straw, Blackburn MP, said the court action, the fifth terror-related conviction for a Blackburn man in recent years, had come as a shock.
Following the lifting of reporting restrictions yesterday it can now be revealed that Kanmi was travelling to Helsinki when he was arrested in January 2008.
He was with Abbas Iqbal, 24, one of two brothers who filmed al Qaeda-style propaganda and dubbed themselves 'The Black-burn Resistance'.
Iqbal, of Percival Street, Black-burn, was sentenced to three years in jail at Manchester Crown Court two months ago.
Another terrorist linked to Kanmi was Albanian Krenar Lusha, 30, who was convicted by a jury at Preston Crown Court in December last year of five counts of possessing terror-related articles, and jailed for seven years.
Kanmi, still posing as Umar Rabie, had been in phone and internet contact with Lusha who was caught downloading a video on how to blow people up when police burst into his home in Derby.
Officers also discovered 71.8 litres of petrol in the cellar of Lusha's terrace house and computer documents such as 'The Bomb Book' and videos including 'Mobile Detonators'.
The convictions were the culmination of an operation which saw undercover police stationed at Blackburn Library between March to July 2008. They watched and filmed Kanmi while he used the computers.
During last year’s aborted trial, Mr Edis said Kanmi admitted making the two postings regarding Mr Brown and Mr Blair but would counter that it was a joke and that he never thought anyone would take him seriously.
The first message posted on the al-Ekhlaas website on January 2, 2008 compiled a list of aims for al Qaeda in Britain which included 'the elimination of political leaders and top of the list Blair and Brown. As God said: ‘Kill the nonbelievers’.'
Another objective was 'huge attacks, God willing, on centres and places of benefit to the crusaders. As God said: ‘Kill the participants as you find them, take them, guard them and wait for them’.'
The message concluded: 'We invite all Muslims in Britain to join us and prepare themselves for martyrdom operations and not lose this golden chance.
'We also invite all Muslims in Europe to make us victorious in Europe, with men and money, until the British government withdraws its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.'
It was signed 'Leadership of al Qaeda in Britain.'
A second posting followed on January 24, 2008, composed from a public computer at Blackburn Central Library, in which Kanmi wrote: 'In the name of Allah, we the organisation of al Qaeda in Briton (sic) offers a truce to the British government.
'Our demands are as follows - 1: A complete withdrawal of the British troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, 2: To free all Muslim captives from Belmarsh Prison.
'If the British government fails to respond to our demands within the last day of March 2008 then the Martyrdom seekers of the organisation of al Qaeda in Britain will target all the political leaders especially Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
'And we will target all embassies, crusaders’ centre and their interests throughout the country, with the help of Allah.'
Mr Edis said Kanmi began using the name Umar Rabie on a US chat forum called Infovlad in May 2007.
He went on to create two other online identities, Umar Rabie’s Bro and Lover of Islam.
On the planned visit to Finland, Kanmi was to formally introduce Iqbal to the mosque leaders who had offered the latter a teaching post, the court heard.
He had previously visited a newly-opened mosque in the Finnish capital in his purported role as an Islamic scholar.
When searched at the airport both men were carrying terror-related information on mobile storage devices contained in their luggage.
Kanmi possessed a film from the media wing of al Qaeda about the 7/7 bombings in London and other videos on martyrdom and military training.
In Iqbal’s suitcase was a memory card which contained a video of two men dressed in camouflage crawling through Corporation Park in Blackburn.
Joel Bennathan QC, defending Kanmi, said it would be argued that his client was 'reckless rather than intentional' in some of his actions.
He said: “We will say this is a very young, damaged man who is a million miles away from Abu Hamza.”
Sentencing will take place on a date yet to be fixed as psychiatric and psychological reports on the defendant are prepared.