Muslim schoolboy guilty of terrorism offences

A schoolboy who ran away from home to become a Muslim martyr and three students who recruited him are facing jail after a jury found them guilty of terrorism offences.

Mohammed Irfan Raja was supposed to be on his way to school in Essex when he ran away to join a group of radicalised students in Bradford.

Raja, from Ilford, who was then 17, caught a bus to West Yorkshire as part of a plan to travel to Pakistan for terrorist training.

He left his parents a note which said: “If not in this (world) we will meet in the Garden of Paradise, Inshallah [God willing].

“The situation is such that you will live another 30 years, maybe 40 years. When death will befall you, maybe then you will appreciate what I have done now.” A “PS” added that he was going abroad.

Raja’s distraught parents called the police in February last year.

Yesterday Raja and three others were found guilty of possessing articles useful for terrorism after a three-month trial at the Old Bailey.

Officers found a “profusion of Islamic propaganda” on the schoolboy’s computer which showed he had been talking to Bradford University students in a chatroom.

Raja’s family managed to contact him on his mobile phone and persuaded him to telephone them from a phone box in Manchester.

His distraught mother went on a hunger strike until Raja agreed to return home.

“Irfan Raja was not as firm in his purpose as he hoped he would be, and as the people in Bradford hoped he would be,” said Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting.

He had become involved with a group of radical first-year students who would allegedly meet at a student house in Bradford.

Raja had been introduced to Aitzaz Zafar, 20, from Rochdale, Lancs, over the internet by a 17-year-old student called Ali, from New Jersey, who was planning to join them.

The court heard how Zafar and Akbar Butt, 19, from Southall, West London, discussed travel arrangements over the internet with a contact called “Imran” in Lahore, Pakistan.

Butt used a computer in Bradford University library to plan a trip to a training camp on Pakistan’s North-West Frontier.

But Raja was arrested when he went home on February 26 and counter-terrorism police soon rounded up the Bradford ring, which also included Usman Ahmed Malik, 21, from Wolverhampton, West Mids.

During raids on their homes officers found material on their computers which included al-Qa’eda manuals, speeches by Osama bin Laden and justifications for suicide bombings.

The other members of the gang denied plotting to train for jihad.

The defendants, who had spent much of the trial laughing and giggling together, looked shocked as the verdicts were announced.

Jurors are still deliberating over a charge faced by a fourth Bradford university student Awaab Iqbal, 19.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Duncan Gardham, Telegraph, July 25, 2007,

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 25, 2007.
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