Danish Islamic extremists convicted of terrorism

Two men secretly filmed mixing the type of explosive used in London’s July 7 bombings were today convicted in Denmark of preparing a terrorist attack.

Hammad Khuershid, a Dane of Pakistani origin, and Abdoulghani Tokhi, an Afghan, were arrested in an anti-terror sweep last year after Danish agents filmed them conducting a small test blast with triacetone triperoxide, which was used by the suicide bombers who killed 52 people in 2005.

During the trial, prosecutors said Khuershid had links to an al Qaida operative. The prosecutors said it was not clear whether Khuershid and Tokhi were preparing an attack in Denmark or abroad. Denmark has repeatedly been threatened by Islamic extremists after the uproar triggered by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that were first published in Danish newspapers in 2005.

Investigators found hand-written bomb-making manuals in the men’s homes that prosecutors said Khuershid had copied at the pro-Taliban Red Mosque in Islamabad.

They said he also had spent time in the Pakistani region of Waziristan, a militant stronghold near the Afghan border. Khuershid has admitted he was in Waziristan, but denies receiving any military training.

Khuershid and Tokhi had pleaded innocent and said the explosive was to be used for fireworks. They sat motionless as the City Court in Glostrup, on the outskirts of Copenhagen, handed down the guilty verdict. It was not immediately clear whether they would appeal.

The pair could face life in prison, although such sentences are generally reduced to 16 years under Danish law. No date was set for sentencing.

Denmark’s PET security police put the men under surveillance after receiving a tip from a foreign intelligence agency. PET agents monitored their phone and computer communication and installed video cameras in Khuershid’s home.

One surveillance video, played in court, showed the men mixing and testing a very small amount of triacetone triperoxide, or TATP.

They were arrested in the Copenhagen area in September 2007. Denmark’s intelligence service said at the time that the suspects were Islamic militants with direct links to leading al Qaida figures.

Danish police say they have thwarted a series of terrorist attacks in recent years.


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