A judge denounced the “woefully inadequate” sentencing powers in terrorism cases as he jailed the five men who helped the July 21 would-be suicide bombers for a total of 56 years.
Judge Paul Worsley QC said the sentences of between seven and 17 years, dictated by strict guidelines, did not “reflect the enormity” of what the guilty men had done in keeping the plot secret and helping the men who attempted to bomb the London transport system evade justice when their plan went wrong.
He also blamed the men for the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, saying that he would not have been mistaken for one of the bombers and shot by police if the defendants had given up the real bombers instead of hiding them.
Wahbi Mohammed, 25, Abdul Sherif, 30, Siraj Ali, 33, Muhedin Ali, 29, and Ismail Abdurahman, 25, were convicted of a total of 22 charges of failing to disclose information about terrorism and assisting an offender following a four-month trial at Kingston Crown Court in South London.
Mohammed and Siraj Ali were also convicted of having prior knowledge of the plot.
Because prisoners are released after serving half of their sentence, and because they have already served jail time on remand, one of the men, Muhedin Ali, will be eligible for release in just 33 months.
The judge told them: “As this case has unfolded I have reflected that in the event of convictions, the sentences at the disposal of this court are woefully inadequate to reflect the enormity of what you were about in July 2005.”
He said that none of the men had shown any remorse, adding: “I have no doubt that you were each prepared to aid ruthless men and that, in so doing, each of you must have harboured the hope that the bombers would ultimately be successful in their mission to destroy society as we know it, instill fear in its ranks and bring division among peace-loving people.”
Mohammed, the brother of the Oval tube station bomber Ramzi Mohammed, was given the longest sentence – 17 years – after the court heard that he was present as the final preparations were made for the bombings on the morning of July 21.
He took away a video camera used to make the men’s suicide videos and a suicide letter intended for his brother’s family.
After the failed attacks he helped his brother by giving him food and a new mobile phone as he hid with ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim in north London.
Siraj Ali, the foster brother of Yassin Omar, the Warren Street bomber, was given 12 years for housing Ibrahim while the bombs were being made in Omar’s council flat a floor below in Curtis House, Southgate, north London.
In Ali’s flat police found a notepad on which Ibrahim had set out his plans for “Martyrdom in the Path of God”.
Abdul Sherif, who was jailed for 10 years, is the brother of Hussain Osman, the Shepherd’s Bush bomber.
He later gave Osman his passport, which the bomber used to flee to Italy. Abdurahman, who gave sanctuary to Osman immediately after the failed attacks, was jailed for 10 years, and Ali, a friend of Osman and the Mohammed brothers, hid extremist tapes belonging to Osman and Mohammed’s suicide note.
He was jailed for seven years. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, who led the hunt for the bombers, described the failure of Mohammed and Siraj Ali to alert the authorities to the 21/7 plot as “despicable”.
All five men, originally from Africa, have leave to remain in the UK but are likely to be deported when they are eventually released.