UK club bomber refuses to answer questions about training with ISI - to not endanger family in Pakistan
October 3, 2006
Updated: 5:47 a.m. PT Sept 18, 2006 http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14889561 UK bomb plot suspect refuses to give evidence
LONDON - Britain's biggest post-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism trial — an alleged plot to bomb targets including night clubs and shopping centers — was brought to a dramatic halt Monday when a key defendant refused to answer questions from his own lawyer.
Omar Khyam, a British Muslim, is accused with six other men of planning the attacks.
On the start of the third day of his evidence, Khyam was asked by his lawyers about his purchase of 600 kg of fertilizer and why he had stored it.
But Khyam, 24, from West Sussex, refused to answer, saying he feared he might endanger his family back in Pakistan.
Last week the former London Metropolitan University student told the Old Bailey the Sept. 11 attacks had made him happy.
But he said he was joking when he told friends he wanted bomb parliament during prime minister's questions, the weekly session attended by the country's most senior politicians.
Khyam denies charges that he and his co-defendants planned to set off bombs in pubs, clubs, trains, a shopping center and synagogues using explosives made from ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
On Monday, Khyam's lawyer Joel Bennathan asked his client: "Mr. Khyam in November 2003, did you with the assistance of another or others buy and then store 600 kg. of fertilizer?"
Khyam responded by saying the Pakistani intelligence service had spoken with his family members in Pakistan about what had already been said about them in court.
"I think they (the intelligence service) are worried about what I may end up revealing about them. So right now my priority is the security of my family there. As much as I want to clarify matters I am going to stop," he said.
A clearly shocked Bennathan then asked for an adjournment, after which Judge Michael Astill warned Khyam about the potential consequences.
He told the defendant that if he refused to answer questions "the jury may draw such inferences as appear proper from your failure to do so."
Training with Pakistani intelligence?
Prosecutors have already 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-Qaida.
The key prosecution witness in the trial is a Pakistan-born U.S. 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.
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 1,300 lbs. of ammonium nitrate fertilizer for terrorism purposes and Khyam and Mahmood also deny having aluminum powder — an ingredient in explosives.