UK terrorism suspect 'happy' about September 11

LONDON - One of seven British Muslims accused of planning to bomb a host of possible English targets began his defence in court today by telling the jury he was happy when the September 11 attacks took place.

Omar Khyam, 24, and his six co-accused deny charges they had planned to set off bombs in pubs, clubs, trains, a shopping centre and synagogues using explosive devices made from ammonium fertiliser.

Khyam, the first defendant to give evidence, told London's Old Bailey court he was pleased America had been attacked, adding people in Pakistan and Afghanistan loved Osama bin Laden, the head of the al Qaeda group which carried out the operation.

Asked by his lawyer, Joel Bennathan, how he felt about the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Khyam replied: "I was happy."

He added: "Because America was, and is seen, as the greatest enemy of Islam. They (America) had put up puppet regimes and dictatorships to secure their interests in the area."

But he said he had had mixed feelings because of the deaths of almost 3000 people.

"They have nothing to do with the war," he said, although he went on to say he would not condemn the attacks in public.

The key prosecution witness in the trial, the country's biggest anti-terrorism case to go to court since the September 11 attacks, is a Pakistan-born US supergrass who has admitted terrorism-related offences in New York.

During evidence Mohammed Babar gave earlier in the trial, he said he had met some of the defendants at terrorism training camps in Pakistan.

Prosecutors have also told the court Khyam was secretly recorded discussing possible targets such as the biggest nightclub in London -- The Ministry of Sound -- and that the seven men had links to al Qaeda.

Today Khyam said he had gone to Pakistan in 2000 to train with the country's intelligence service, the ISI, so he could help "free Kashmir", the Himalayan region claimed in full by both India and Pakistan.

He said he had training in weapons -- including rocket propelled grenade launchers -- reconnaissance and sniping.

He also said Osama bin Laden was worshipped in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"He won the hearts and minds of (the people) of the region," Khyam said. "People love him all over the area. You would find pictures of (him) on buses, shops and public transport."

Khyam, his younger brother Shujah Mahmood, 18, Anthony Garcia, 27, Nabeel Hussain, 20, Jawad Akbar, 22, Waheed Mahmood, 33, and Salahuddin Amin, 30, are accused of conspiring to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

Khyam, Garcia and Hussain are also charged with possessing 600 kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser for terrorism purposes and Khyam and Mahmood also deny having aluminium powder -- an ingredient in explosives.

Khyam is expected to continue giving evidence for several days.


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