A Saudi-born British man who claimed he had been kidnapped by the Taliban in Pakistan and forced to make bombs for them was today found guilty on terrorism charges by a UK court. Khaled Ali was arrested by Scotland Yard officers in April last year on Parliament Street in London and found carrying three knives. The 28-year-old had recently returned from Afghanistan, where he made and detonated bombs, the Old Bailey court was told. A jury convicted Ali of preparing an act of terrorism in the UK, and two counts of possessing an explosive substance with intent. The plumber from north London will be sentenced at a later date and faces life imprisonment. It emerged during his trial that Ali, a qualified gas-fitter, had been under surveillance by MI5 after returning from Afghanistan in late 2016. He had spent more than five years helping construct hundreds of bombs for the Taliban.
“We were trying to understand what he was up to here and trying to get the evidence from international partners we could use in court, when we became pretty convinced that he’d rearmed himself with knives,” said Deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon of the Metropolitan Police, head of counter-terror policing in the UK. “We were pretty convinced he was about to launch a deadly terrorist attack here in central London and so we intervened,” he said. Following his return to the UK, an intelligence database cross matched Ali’s fingerprints with 42 separate prints found on dozens of improvised explosive device components. As police and the security services began preparing a criminal case against Ali, he was being monitored by authorities, when it became clear he was about to launch an attack.
His arrest in April last year came just a month after terrorist Khalid Masood killed pedestrians on Westminster bridge, before fatally stabbing PC Keith Palmer outside the Houses of Parliament in London on March 22, 2017. British prosecutors believe Ali had been planning to target police, members of the military, or parliamentarians around Westminster area of the city. Police said Ali had been in a “Taliban training camp affiliated to al-Qaeda where, for several years, he helped terrorists make hundreds of bombs capable of mass murder”. The jury was shown a video of Ali’s arrest, captured on a bodycam carried by one of the armed officers. It showed armed police running up to the suspect at the junction of Parliament Square and Whitehall and pinning him to the ground.
As they searched him on the ground, they found a total of three knives. Two 3.5-inch-long knives were recovered from his jacket pockets. Police then pulled an eight-inch Sabatier chef’s knife from the waistband of Ali’s tracksuit bottoms. They also found a bundle of cash in another pocket. He claimed later that he was carrying the knives for his own protection and that he simply wanted to deliver a message to leading politicians. In a police interview he said the message was not for them but for “those who are running the country, that’s why I was in the Westminster area”, adding it was “for the leaders, those who are the decision-makers”. The message, he claimed was “the same, it always will be, leave their lands, leave the Muslims to do whatever they are doing”.