The Times (England), ug. 10, 2002
By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent
A Muslim convert who claimed he had been a “trophy” scapegoat for the authorities after the September 11 attacks was cleared yesterday of trying to recruit Islamic terrorists by offering weapons training on his website.
Sulayman Zain-ul-abidin, had set up the Ultimate Jihad Challenge website offering live firearms training on a £3,000, two-week course in America.
Mark Ellison, for the prosecution at the Old Bailey, claimed that it was to “assist or prepare for terrorism”. He added that the offer of live firearms training was something the jury would have to give careful consideration to when deciding what message the defendant was choosing to convey. “The invitation to others is not disputed,” he added.
Mr Zain-ul-abidin, 44, from Greenwich, southeast London, maintained that he was running a security service and disregarded any inquiries which thought he was recruiting people for a holy war. He had been fighting a war of words against attempts in the media to demonise Islam. The only person to have taken a course in the last couple of years had been a Sainsbury’s security guard.
The defendant was the first Muslim to be tried in England under the Terrorism Act 2000 Act after September 11. He was arrested three weeks after the attacks on New York and Washington and two weeks after going into a London police station to complain that he did not feel safe after a newspaper article about his activities.
The prosecution also alleged that police found a laptop in the defendant’s locker containing articles about al-Qaeda.
His acquittal follows two failed attempts to extradite suspected Islamic terrorists to the United States. There has been no conviction of anyone connected to Islamic terrorism since then.
Last week a judge dismissed extradition cases against Yasser al-Siri, a West London bookseller, accused of being a key figure in al-Qaeda. Earlier, a case against Lotfi Raissi, a pilot based in West London, was dismissed.