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Algerian Muslim behind Al Qaeda plot in UK jailed for stabbing death of policeman -New terror fears over missing ricin

Independent newspaper reveals that Jewish community in North London was an intended target
April 13, 2005

MIM: The mortal struggle which the West is engaged in against militant Islam is reflected in the news of the past two days which revealed two deadly plots to commit mass murder in Britain and the United States.

Yesterday it was nnounced that three Muslims in Britain had been indicted on charges of planning 'attacks in the US with weapons of mass destruction' using radiological and chemical devices, and today, Algerian Muslim was sentenced to 17 years in the UK stabbing to death an unarmed policeman who raided an apartment where ricin was believed to be manufactured.

Today it was revealed that an intended target was the Jewish community of North London.

The chemicals and equipment found in the flat could have made enough poison to kill hundreds.
Picture: PA

Police killer and his plot to poison Britain,,2-1567993,00.html

April 14, 2005

The al-Qaeda plot to poison Britain

By Stewart Tendler and Sean O'Neill
Murderer who planned to contaminate toothbrushes and face cream was allowed to slip through immigration net

Kamel Bourgass: immigration officers and magistrates could have detained or deported him

AN AL-QAEDA terrorist who planned to create mass panic with a chemical attack could have been deported as an illegal immigrant six months before he stabbed a police officer to death.

Kamel Bourgass, a failed asylum-seeker who plotted to smear car door handles and contaminate toiletries, including Nivea face cream, and toothbrushes in shops with ricin, had been arrested in East London for shoplifting in 2002.

He was reported to the immigration authorities but no enforcement officer was available to interview him or take him into custody. Sources have told The Times that a shortage of officers means that none are on duty overnight in London.

Magistrates could have deported or detained him but fined him Ł70 and freed him. In January 2003, while on the run after the discovery of a safe house where he was trying to make ricin and cyanide, Bourgass murdered Detective Constable Stephen Oake and wounded three other officers.

The full story of the plot can be told after a year-long series of interlinked trials at the Old Bailey. Bourgass, 32, an Algerian Islamist, was jailed for life for murder and given further jail terms for attempted murder and wounding in June last year.

He was sentenced to 17 years' jail yesterday for conspiracy to commit a public nuisance "by the use of poisons or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury". Mr Justice Penry-Davey told Bourgass: "The courts take a very serious view of those who, for misguided ideological reasons or political motives, seek to destabilise society by terrorism."

But in a blow to the police and intelligence services, who arrested more than 100 people and visited 26 countries, his four co-defendants were cleared of involvement.

After deliberating for more than 74 hours, the jury decided that there was not enough evidence. A third trial involving four other men was abandoned and the men formally cleared.

The police inquiry began as an investigation into terrorist fundraising before detectives stumbled upon a plan to make crude poisons. It was thwarted after the arrest in Algeria of Mohammed Meguerba, an al-Qaeda terrorist who confessed his part and directed officers to a flat in Wood Green, North London, in January 2003.

In the flat were copies of poison recipes taken from al-Qaeda manuals, with the raw materials and equipment to make small quantities.

Meguerba and Bourgass had not been planning mass murder but a campaign which could have created hysteria. Bourgass was traced to a Manchester bedsit but, using combat techniques learnt in Afghanistan, he snatched a knife and caused a bloodbath in which Mr Oake died. An officer from Greater Manchester Police has been disciplined for the poor organisation of the arrest.

One element of the police operation was the closure of Finsbury Park mosque, where Bourgass sometimes slept. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch, said that the public had been "spared from a real and deadly threat". Mr Clarke added: "This is an important conviction that has removed a very dangerous man from our streets. In his attempts to evade capture he murdered DC Stephen Oake, an appalling tragedy that must not be forgotten."

The case will fuel the election debate over immigration. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said that Bourgass "should have been deported when his asylum application failed".


14/04/05 - News and city section

Terror fear over lost poison
By Justin Davenport, Crime Correspondent, Evening Standard

An al Qaeda cell in London could still have the poison ricin, police said today.

The highly toxic substance was made at a Wood Green flat and has never been found. An al Qaeda supergrass told officials that he and police killer Kamel Bourgass made two batches of ricin.

It was hidden in two Nivea pots. Ricin is 6,000 times more poisonous than cyanide and an amount equivalent to a grain of salt is enough to kill an adult.

Bourgass, 31, was jailed yesterday for 17 years for a plot to kill civilians with home-made poisons and explosives.

The Algerian was previously jailed for life for murdering Special Branch detective Stephen Oake whom he stabbed eight times when cornered in a Manchester flat.

Bourgass arrived in Britain in the back of a lorry from Calais.

Today Home Secretary Charles Clarke pledged an urgent review of immigration laws after it emerged that Bourgass had twice been turned down for asylum and could have been deported as an illegal immigrant six months before he killed the officer.

The information that Bourgass's cell made ricin from castor beans was given to Algerian interrogators by al Qaeda suspect Mohamed Meguerba. It was his evidence that led Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch and MI5 to the flat in Wood Green.

There officers uncovered ingredients and equipment to manufacture a range of poisons and gases. A senior anti-terrorist officer said: "Everything Meguerba told us turned out to be true. We have no reason to disbelieve him when he said he and Bourgass had made ricin. We just couldn't find it."

The gang planned to put ricin on door handles of cars and shops in Holloway Road and open packs of toothbrushes in supermarkets and smear them with it.

Officers also found recipes and plans for gases and explosives. There was evidence of a plot for a cyanide attack on the Tube with a pump-style spray gun.

Detectives are convinced that other terror cells linked to Bourgass are still at large and may have the missing ricin.

Bourgass moved between flats and in London, Manchester and Bournemouth. He was linked to suspected terror chief Abu Doha who is being held in the UK waiting extradition to the US for his alleged part in a thwarted plot to bomb Los Angeles airport.

Bourgass was arrested following a raid in Crumpsall Lane, Manchester, on 14 January, 2003, when he murdered Dc Oake, nine days after police raided the Wood Green flat.

Four other Algerians - Mouloud Sihali, 29, David Aissa Khalef, 33, Sidali Feddag, 20, and Mustapha Taleb, 35 - were also in the dock with Bourgass facing poison plot charges.

They were alleged to have played support roles in the plot - the evidence against them consisted mainly of fingerprints linking them to items found in Wood Green. All four men were cleared. Following the not guilty verdictsprosecutors dropped plans for a third trial involving four other alleged conspirators, three Algerians and a Libyan.

Bourgass is now set to launch an appeal, funded by the taxpayer, against his conviction for murdering Dc Oake. The move will send the Ł30 million cost of the series of trials related to the ricin plot spiralling even higher.

Bourgass's lawyers expect their appeal to be heard next month. He also refuses to accept his guilt over the Wood Green ricin factory.

A decision on whether to appeal against a guilty verdict for conspiring to use the poison to cause "disruption, fear and injury" is still to be considered.

His lawyers argue that the jury - which convicted him of murder, two charges of attempted murder and a count of wounding with intent - should not have been told that he was linked to the ricin factory. They claim the jury was prejudiced and the convictions and life sentence should be quashed.

But Nigel Sweeney, QC, prosecuting, said Bourgass had been convicted of murder on "overwhelming evidence".

Crown lawyers point out that the fact Bourgass knew he had left a mountain of evidence in the Wood Green flat was the key motivation for him to launch his murderous attack in Manchester in a desperate bid to escape justice.

Even if Bourgass wins his appeal against the murder conviction he may face another trial on the ricin charge.

Bourgass was convicted on the lesser charge of plotting to use poison to cause "disruption, fear and injury" but the jury could not agree a verdict on a more serious count of conspiracy to murder. Mr Sweeney said the Crown would apply for a retrial on that charge should Bourgass's appeal succeed.


Finsbury Park mosque Bourgass stayed for a time at the Finsbury Park mosque

Mystery still surrounds killer An Algerian man has been convicted of plotting to spread ricin and other poisons. The BBC News website looks at what is known about Kamel Bourgass.

Kamel Bourgass remains something of a mystery man despite many months of probing by police and MI5, and his own testimony in court.

Police are not even sure if Bourgass is his real name, nor is his birthdate or place of birth certain.

MI5 claimed he was a "sleeper", an al-Qaeda operative who was to be activated at the right time to carry out an outrage on Britain's streets.

Police believe he spent time in Afghanistan and got training on how to make and use poisons.

Bourgass, who also used the alias Nadir Habra, entered Britain in the back of a lorry through the port of Dover in January 2000.

In the meantime he was mired in the asylum system.

After being refused asylum he was sent a notice of appeal in September 2001, but failed to attend the hearing two months later.

His appeal was dismissed in his absence in December 2001, making him liable for arrest and removal from the UK.

Went to ground

But more than a year later he was still in Britain, having gone to ground.

On 14 January 2003 Bourgass was at a friend's flat in Crumpsall, Manchester, when Special Branch officers burst in.

They were actually searching for another man and did not recognise Bourgass even though Special Branch were looking for him under the name Nadir Habra.

Bourgass, frantic to get away, stabbed to death Detective Constable Stephen Oake but was overpowered and taken into custody.

He must have known the game was up but he continued to proclaim his innocence and claimed at his trial that he had killed DC Oake out of fear.

After he was convicted of the murder Bourgass faced another trial in connection with the ricin conspiracy.

Before that trial began there was significant legal argument and the judge ruled as inadmissible evidence which had derived from Mohamed Meguerba's interrogations by the security services in Algeria.

'Trained in Afghanistan'

The following were admissions made by Meguerba during these interviews:

  • He claimed he and Bourgass spent time training in Afghanistan.
  • They later came to Britain and agreed a joint enterprise to make toxic poisons and smear them on car door handles and houses on the Holloway Road area of north London.
  • The leaders of the cell were two other al-Qaeda figures, neither of whom can be named for legal reasons.
  • Towards the end of the summer of 2002 Meguerba and Bourgass were training in preparing poisons from documents emanating from Afghanistan.
  • Both had learned about chemistry in Afghanistan.
  • Meguerba also said he had been in Afghanistan for a year, leaving just before 9/11 and he said he had met Osama bin Laden.
  • Meguerba also said Bourgass had invited him to dinner where he had produced cherries, plums and apples and Bourgass had given him a cup in which to put the stones.
  • Bourgass said the stones were needed to make poison.
  • Bourgass had said he was making poison and showed him a Nivea pot containing castor oil poison.
  • Meguerba said he made photocopies of the poison recipe pages but he said he was not involved in any poison plot.

    Nigel Sweeney, QC, prosecuting said Meguerba faces charges in Algeria which include crimes committed in Britain as well as crimes committed in his home country.

    Very different picture

    But when Bourgass gave evidence he gave a very innocent picture of himself.

    Questioned by his own lawyer, Michel Massih, he said he had been a conscripted police officer for a year back in Algeria and he said he came to Britain to find work.

    He said he was sent to Manchester by the Home Office after applying for asylum.

    But he said he felt lonely there because there were not many Arabs and he moved to London, where he stayed for a while at the mosque in Finsbury Park.

    He said he only met Meguerba in the spring of 2002, when he began buying and selling clothes.

    Bourgass said they discussed the situation back in Algeria, particularly the massacres of innocent people which were often blamed on Islamic groups.

    Poison recipes

    Mr Massih then asked him about the poison recipes and why he had written them.

    Bourgass said: "I wrote it in accordance with a request by this man Meguerba."

    Mr Massih asked: "How did he tell you about writing the recipes?"

    Bourgass replied: "When after the relationship had developed and he told me about the incidents that had occurred in his village.
    He (Meguerba) told me that people in Algeria, these groups, when they made their raids on these villages they took their supplies and food from these people and he wanted to put it in food, that's what he told me
    Kamel Bourgass
    "He told me he wanted to help people in his village and he told me he wanted to go to Algeria to help people in his village. He asked me if I could help him out and write for him these copies that were found with me."

    Mr Massih asked: "When you copied these recipes did you realise these were recipe to make poisons?"

    He replied: "Yes, he told me before he asked me to write them. He told me he wanted to write recipes which contained products of poisons and explosives."

    'What was the purpose?'

    Mr Massih asked: "Did you discuss the purpose of the recipes to have been used?"

    Bourgass replied: "He told me he wanted to help people in the village against these raids, attacks carried out by these terrorist groups. He wanted to go to Algeria to go to the village and if there was to be an attack by these groups he would use these things against them as self-defence according to him...

    "He told me that people in Algeria, these groups, when they made their raids on these villages they took their supplies and food from these people and he wanted to put it in food, that's what he told me."

    The jury clearly did not accept Bourgass's story, preferring to believe that he was a dedicated terrorist out to target Britain.

  • ---------------------------------


    April 13, 2005

    Ricin plotter jailed for life for murdering detective
    By Jenny Booth, Times Online
    Kamel Bourgass

    A suspected al-Qaeda terrorist has been jailed for life for the murder of a Special Branch detective, it can be revealed today.

    Kamel Bourgass, a 31-year-old failed Algerian asylum seeker, was on the run after officers discovered his plot to use the deadly poison ricin against the British public.

    He turned a Manchester flat into a bloodbath as he was cornered by police, grabbing a kitchen knife and stabbing Detective Constable Stephen Oake eight times. He also knifed three other policemen as he tried to flee.

    At the time Bourgass, who was also known as Nadir Habra, had been in hiding for nine days after his attempts to make ricin and other poisons were discovered at a flat in Wood Green, North London, in a raid by anti-terrorist police.

    Yet Manchester police stumbled across him entirely by accident, when conducting a raid to arrest another terror suspect. Blunders in the police operation meant that Bourgass was left without handcuffs for over an hour, allowing him to launch his deadly attack.

    Detectives believe that Bourgass trained in al-Qaeda terror camps in Afghanistan run by Osama bin Laden and was taught how to make poisons and explosives.

    According to an alleged co-conspirator, who co-operated with authorities when he was arrested in Algeria, Bourgass was planning to smear poison on the door handles of cars and buildings in the Holloway area of North London. Detectives believe he might also have had plans to use it in spray form or to contaminate consumer products.

    In the London raid, police found accurate recipes and ingredients for poisons including ricin, cyanide and botulinum - one of the most toxic substances known to man - and the blueprint for a bomb.

    A pestle and mortar hidden under a chest of drawers contained a substance which initially tested positive as ricin, although later tests were negative. There had also been an attempt to make poison using nicotine extracted from cigarettes.

    Scientists at the Porton Down chemical warfare laboratories in Wiltshire later followed the instructions in the recipes. Their experiments produced enough ricin and cyanide to kill hundreds of people.

    Nigel Sweeney, QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey: "These were no playtime recipes. These are recipes that experts give credence to and experiments show work. They are scientifically viable and potentially deadly."

    After Bourgass's arrest in Manchester, blanket reporting restrictions were placed on court proceedings. The restrictions were finally lifted at the Old Bailey today by Mr Justice Penry-Davey after Bourgass had faced two trials, both held amid high security.

    In his first trial, which lasted three months and ended in June last year, Bourgass was found guilty of murdering Det Con Oake, attempting to murder two Special Branch officers who for security reasons can only be identified as "Steve" and "John", and wounding another officer, Sergeant Paul Grindrod, with intent.

    After that trial, Mr Justice Penry-Davey sentenced him to life for murder, ruling that he had to serve a minimum of 22 years. He also sentenced Bourgass to 15 years for each attempted murder charge, and eight years for the wounding, all to run concurrently.

    Today the same judge sentenced Bourgass to a further 17 years for the poison plot, which will run consecutively to his earlier 15 year sentence - meaning that he is likely to serve a minimum of 32 years.

    Although the prosecution maintained that Bourgass's true identity was Nadir Habra - he had several aliases - Judge Penry-Davey addressed him as Kamel Bourgass. He said: "You in my judgement, on the evidence, were the prime mover in a terrorist operation involving the use of poisons and explosives and intended to destabilise the community in this country by causing disruption, fear and injury.

    "You entered this country illegally and in order to remain here to carry out the planned operation you were happy to resort to the use of false identities. The determination with which you retained your anonymity can be measured by the fact that your true identity even after this very large investigation is still not entirely clear.

    "You were engaged with at least one other for a period of several months in the preparation of this operation, writing detailed recipes for poisons and explosives, collecting the raw materials and equipment for these poisons and explosives and starting to experiment with some of the items in that flat."

    The jury in Bourgass's second trial, which began last September, had not been told that Bourgass had already been convicted of the murder of Mr Oake.

    They found Bourgass guilty of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance by using poisons and explosives, but failed to reach a verdict on a charge of conspiracy to murder after 83 hours of deliberations in the jury room over the course of four weeks. The jurors were discharged and excused from jury service for life.

    It emerged that Bourgass was known to immigration officials but went underground after his asylum appeal was rejected. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, blamed the Government's immigration policy for leaving Bourgass free to kill, saying that Stephen Oake's death was a tragedy that should not have happened.

    "This officer was killed by someone who should have been deported when his asylum application failed," said Mr Davis. "Unfortunately this failure was a direct consequence of the government's chaotic asylum policy and its porous borders."

    But Home Secretary Charles Clarke denied that the case was an "embarrassment" for the Government. "I think that firstly this is an illustration of the fact that terrorist organisations exist and are seeking to damage our lives. And secondly it has to urge us on to find better ways of dealing with the threat that they have," he told the ITV News Channel.

    Four other Algerians - Mouloud Sihali, 29, David Aissa Khalef, 33, Sidali Feddag, 20, and Mustapha Taleb, 35 - were also in the dock in Bourgass's second trial facing the same two charges.

    They were alleged to have played support roles in the plot - the evidence against them consisted mainly of fingerprints linking them to items found at Wood Green. All four men were cleared by the jury on both counts.

    After the not guilty verdicts, prosecutors dropped plans for a third trial involving four other alleged conspirators - three Algerians and a Libyan.

    Bourgass's plot was uncovered after a tenth alleged co-conspirator, an Algerian called Mohammed Meguerba, was arrested in Algeria in December 2002 and revealed details of the plot under interrogation. He confessed to being a veteran of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and to having had numerous personal meetings with Osama bin Laden.

    Meguerba claimed that Bourgass had also been in a mujahideen training camp in Afghanistan and was trained to make poisons at an al-Qaeda camp. He is awaiting in Algeria for alleged terrorist offences.


    April 14, 2005

    How high street poison plot ended in a bedsit bloodbath,,2-1568269,00.html

    By Sean O'Neill
    Security forces feared that they were in a race. They had to catch their man before he could carry out a terrorist attack in Britain

    AS IS typical of the British travelling public, passengers on the NX333 coach from Weymouth to Manchester avoided conversation.

    One young man, engrossed in the Koran and occasionally making calls on his mobile phone, seemed particularly keen not to draw attention as the coach trekked north.

    Outwardly, there was no sign that on that day — January 9, 2003 — that he was the most wanted man in Britain.

    Inwardly, he was afraid and increasingly desperate. Manchester, where he would find a safe house and a contact who could bring a false passport, was his last chance of escape.

    Until then, Kamel Bourgass had had one crucial advantage. He was what police call a "clean skin". There was no intelligence about him.

    But just days before, the net had suddenly begun to close. On January 5, a raid on a flat in North London found the base from which Bourgass had been planning a chemical attack in Britain. It uncovered a kitchen-sink laboratory for making ricin, cyanide and other toxins.

    Several men were arrested but the main suspect was still on the loose. He had a variety of identities, Kamel Bourgass and Nadir Habra among them.

    He was the man on the NX333. Passport photos of him had been found in the flat and circulated to all police forces. The fear was that he might be carrying toxins and use them.

    The danger that he posed was revealed when the search for him ended with a bloodbath in a bedsit in Manchester and the murder of Detective Constable Stephen Oake.

    The ricin plot was uncovered almost accidentally as police investigated a Europe-wide fraud ring believed to be funding al-Qaeda. During that inquiry they made arrests across North London on September 18, 2002.

    Among those held was Mouloud Sihali, a wheelerdealer who could arrange papers and flats for asylum seekers.

    In Sihali's flat in Ilford, police found five false passports, including one bearing the picture of a key terrorist suspect. They also found an address in Thetford, Norfolk, where David Khalef was arrested. Sihali and Khalef were later acquitted of terrorism charges but convicted of passport offences. In Khalef's holdall, officers had found a false passport and sheets of photocopied Arabic writing.

    They were found to be instructions for the manufacture of poisons including ricin, cyanide and botulinum. Castor beans were the basic component for ricin with acetone needed to extract the poison. Cyanide could be made from fruit pips. The details were strikingly similar to formulas found by a reporter from The Times in an al-Qaeda house in Kabul after the fall of the Taleban in 2001.

    "It was the first tangible sign that was something more than fundraising," one senior officer said.

    The Porton Down research establishment tested the instructions and said that they were viable for making lethal doses of poison.

    Khalef was working in a food factory in East Anglia, but there was no evidence in Thetford or Ilford of any attempt to make toxins. Detectives feared that they were in a race to find the poisoners before they could strike. Intelligence agencies and police forces across Europe and northern Africa were on the alert but the trail was cold.

    One source said: "Imagine the impact of discovering that we had found people who were apparently interested in mounting attacks in the UK using unconventional weapons."

    An emergency summit was held in London to brief 200 senior figures from Whitehall, police forces and the transport industry about the threat of a poison attack, possibly on the London Underground.

    In November 2002, French Intelligence alerted police to the arrival in Britain of Rabah Kadre, a key figure in the Algerian Islamist terrorist network.

    Fearing that Kadre's arrival might be the catalyst for action, the authorities arrested him. "We could have let him run," one security source said. "But he is a dangerous man and too much of a risk."

    In Paris, four of his associates were arrested in a raid in which police found a formula for cyanide and a chemical warfare protection suit. Today Kadre remains in a British prison, fighting extradition to France.

    His detention provoked media stories about a possible cyanide attack on the Tube. But these were off the mark. Those chasing the gang still did not know what was planned.

    That knowledge was not acquired until the end of December, when Algeria reported that it had detained a terrorist suspect called Mohammed Meguerba. He told his interrogators that he had been part of a group in London planning attacks using homemade chemical weapons. He had fled Britain two months before, after his arrest during the September police raids. He had been bailed and was ordered by his superiors to leave Britain. The 27-page memo on his interrogation, which may have involved the use of torture, detailed the plan to make poisons and gave the first hint of possible targets. It would not be a mass attack, but on chosen individual civilians.

    Meguerba said that his gang had discussed smearing toxic pastes or liquids on car and door handles around Holloway in North London. The aim was to trigger widespread fear and panic. The leader of the plot was identified as a man called "Nadir", with whom Meguerba claimed to have filled two Nivea cream pots with ricin. Those pots have never been found. But one discovered in a wardrobe contained a nicotine poison. He did not know the address where he and "Nadir" had worked on their formulas, but his description of how he travelled there led police to a two-bedroom flat above a pharmacy on Wood Green High Road in North London. Number 352b was rented by Sidali Feddag, a young asylum-seeker. On January 5, 2003, the flat was raided.

    Police found the handwritten originals of the instructions for poison and instructions for making explosives and detonators. Plastic cups, in which apple pips and cherry stones were being collected, were found along with castor beans and bottles of acetone, packets of plastic gloves, thermometers, digital scales and funnels. In a holdall was Ł4,000 in cash.

    A senior detective said later: "It exploded some of the doubts in my mind about what we might have been looking for. We wondered if it might be some sort of laboratory. But this was garden-shed, kitchen chemistry and all that was required was stuff that could be picked up on the average high street requiring adolescent knowledge to put into action."

    Search teams also found quantities of stolen toiletries, including bottles of mouthwash and several toothbrushes. The brushes were still in their packaging, which had been tampered with to allow access to the bristles, raising fears that one plan had been to apply poison to the brush heads before replacing them in shops.

    Meguerba had told his interrogators that individual Jewish people were among the targets being considered.

    Several arrests were made but the key figure was missing. Eleven passport photos of him were found in an envelope that also contained the original ricin recipe and had been addressed to Finsbury Park mosque. Feddag identified the man as "Nadir", the name referred to by Meguerba. Nadir and Kamel Bourgass were one and the same.

    Bourgass had been sleeping in Finsbury Park mosque when the Wood Green flat was raided. He fled London for Bournemouth. On the run, Bourgass dumped his keys to the flat and replaced the sim-card in his phone.

    In Bournemouth, where he thought that he would find a safe house, he was turned away. He travelled west along the Dorset coast and spent the night in a hotel in Weymouth before catching the National Express coach to Manchester.

    His new destination was a bedsit at Crumpsall Lane in the Cheetham Hill district rented by Khalid Alwerfeli. Meguerba had stayed at the flat three months before; his torn-up passport was found in a bin.

    Bourgass spent several days holed up, waiting for the arrival of a man who, because he is subject to a terrorist control order, can be identified only as Q. It is thought that Q was to arrange the last leg of his escape.

    Police were closing on Bourgass's trail. On January 12, five men and a woman were arrested and questioned in Bournemouth by detectives hunting him. Yet two days later, when officers arrived at Crumpsall Lane, they were looking not for Bourgass but for Q. An Anti-Terrorist Branch officer noticed a mole on Bourgass's upper lip and, recognising him from the photographs, realised that he had stumbled upon the leader of the ricin plot.

    Officers decided not to handcuff him in case they contaminated evidence on his hands. It was to prove a fatal decision. For more than an hour Bourgass and Q sat on the bed guarded by Mr Oake and another officer. The uniformed officer, a PC Fleming, noticed Bourgass's demeanour slowly change. He was clenching and unclenching his fists, tapping his foot and breathing deeply.

    He was "psyching himself up" to escape. Around 5.50pm he leapt at PC Fleming, punched him in the groin, dashed into the kitchen and grabbed a five-inch knife.

    Bourgass flicked off the lights and began lashing out.

    One Special Branch detective, identified only as John, thought that he had been punched three times — in fact he had been stabbed in the chest, side and back. Sergeant Paul Grindrod was stabbed in the leg. Another detective was knifed in the left arm.

    DC Oake kept up his fight with Bourgass, falling backwards to the floor with the suspect on top of him. When Bourgass was restrained, DC Oake's colleagues realised the seriousness of his injuries.

    PC Grindrod said: "His face was grey. I tried to get a response from him. I shouted, I pinched his ear lobe but there was no response."

    The officer had been stabbed eight times, including four deep thrusts that had punctured his heart and lungs. Mr Oake was to be the sole victim of Bourgass's personal jihad.


  • April 13, 2005

    The missing witness who revealed the ricin plot
    By Jenny Booth, Times Online, and Sean O'Neill

    The name of Mohammed Meguerba featured constantly in the ricin trial at the Old Bailey, yet he appeared in neither the dock nor the witness box.

    In the six months he spent in Britain in 2002, Meguerba was a key member of the poison plot. He was later to become the man who gave it away, after his arrest in Algeria late that year.

    The first that the British police knew of the ricin plot came in the form of a 27-page memorandum written by Algerian intelligence agents who interrogated Meguerba in December 2002 and January 2003.

    Now the 37-year-old terror suspect faces trial in Algeria over the London plot. He was deemed too risky a witness to be called before the Old Bailey. The Crown did not want him to appear because he might claim that he had been tortured in Algeria.

    Defence teams too did not want him to appear at the Bourgass trial, fearing that his "confession" could prove devastating, because whatever questions surrounded the interrogation methods, the detail was frequently accurate.

    Meguerba claims that he was recruited to the cause of jihad a decade ago when living in Dublin, where he arrived as an asylum seeker in 1995.

    In April 1997 he married Sharon Gray, an Irish student, at Dublin Register Office. The marriage ended acrimoniously and Ms Gray won a non-molestation order against him. She has told police that his conversion to extremist Islam was a gradual process, beginning after he started to attend one of Dublin's small but growing number of mosques.

    Meguerba told his interrogators he went to the mosque because he was lonely. In 2000 he fell into the company of a group of Islamist extremists.

    Inspired by their ideas, he travelled via London to Pakistan and on to the Afghan terror camps where, according to the intelligence memo, he met Osama bin Laden on a number of occasions and was trained in the use of weapons and explosives.

    He said he was tasked with carrying out attacks in Europe. He was able to supply police with details of the extensive European terror network run by Abu Doha, an Algerian terrorist currently in prison in London. He named several of the defendants acquitted of terror charges as members of the network.

    Along with many trained terrorists, Meguerba was despatched to Europe just before the 9/11 atrocities to plan and execute attacks. At first he suffered a setback, when he was stopped at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, in August 2001 in possession of a false passport. He was detained for four months. After being freed he resumed his journey travelling via France and Italy to arrive in the UK in March 2002.

    Detectives believe it was his arrival that prompted Bourgass to put the poison plan into action.

    Meguerba took on a senior role. His fingerprints were found on the original handwritten poison recipes and on items of equipment used for making the substances.

    He claimed that two batches of ricin had actually been manufactured and were stored in Nivea pots - neither of them has yet been found.

    He also helped organise the cell's finances, which came from credit card fraud and shoplifting. Meguerba was arrested in Norwich for credit card offences. Under the false name of Bruno Merillon, he was a director of Seven Roses, a company set up to run the east London market stall from which stolen clothing was sold.

    Things went wrong in September 2002 when Meguerba was arrested in Tottenham, north London. He feigned a fit and was released on bail to return for questioning in December.

    But the plotters feared that now that he was known to police, Meguerba might jeopardise the entire cell, and they urged him to flee London. He travelled to the gang's Manchester safe house, then flew from Liverpool airport to Barcelona.

    From there he travelled to Morocco and was smuggled into into Algeria and to join a unit of the terrorist DHDS (Dhamat Houmet Daawa Salafia). His arrest led to the unravelling of the plot.


    British police thwart terror plot to poison England's Jews

    Arutz 7 April 13, 2004

    A terrorist plot to poison the Jews of Britain has been thwarted, the British Independent newspaper reported today.

    A group of Algerian terrorists, trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, established a poison factory in an apartment in north London.

    British security services and government scientists raided the lab and established that the intended target was to be the Jewish community in north London.

    The poison "Ricin," was discovered in the chemical lab and an alert went out for an illegal immigrant named Kamel Bourgass, who lived in the apartment.

    Bourgass' capture came in January 2003 when MI5 were contacted by the Algerian security services with some shocking information. They had arrested a suspected Algerian terrorist, Mohammed Meguerba, 36, who told them he had been working with al-Qa'ida supporters in Britain and had been helping them produce Ricin at the north London apartment. The two produced "two pots" of Ricin – neither of which were found when the apartment was raided.

    The police did find a locked bag in Bourgass' bedroom with an envelope containing a set of recipes in Arabic in his handwriting. On the front of the envelope was the address of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London with the name of "Nadir", by which Bourgass was also known. These recipes were later photocopied on a machine at the Mosque, the court heard.

    Details of five poisons that could be made with easy–to-obtain ingredients were written out and scientists later followed the instructions in the recipes, producing enough ricin and cyanide to kill hundreds of people.

    The ricin trial, which began in September last year, ended this week. The jury found Bourgass guilty of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance by using poisons and explosives for which he was given a 17 year sentence.

    Four other Algerians - Mouloud Sihali, 29, David Aissa Khalef, 33, Sidali Feddag, 20, and Mustapha Taleb, 35 – were accused of helping Bourgass, but all were cleared by the jury. Following the not- guilty verdicts, prosecutors dropped plans for a third trial involving four other alleged conspirators - three Algerians and a Libyan.


    Suspected Al Qaeda cell broken

    by Ben English,10117,12855639-401,00.html

    AN al-Qaeda terrorist who planned to kill hundreds of Londoners in a mass poison attack should have been deported as an illegal immigrant six months before he stabbed a police officer to death.

    In a case that has thrust terrorism and immigration to the top of the British election agenda, Algerian militant Kamel Bourgass was yesterday convicted of plotting a terrorism spectacular to rival the September 11 attacks.

    Prosecutors said Bourgass was part of an al-Qaeda cell that was manufacturing explosives and a range of deadly poisons including ricin and cyanide.

    One of the plotters confessed to Algerian authorities the cell had the ricin in a jar of skin cream and planned to smear it on the handles of cars, buildings and trains.

    When police found a chemical weapons lab in London, Bourgass fled to Manchester.

    But in a botched police raid he stabbed four police - killing one after going berserk when cornered in a Manchester flat.

    He was jailed for 22 years for stabbing detective Stephen Oake with a kitchen knife.

    Police and MI5 believe Bourgass - also known as Nadir Habra - had been hand-picked to train in the use of poisons at one of Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan.

    It is believed he is a key member of a network of hundreds recruited to al-Qaeda from the Algerian Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC).

    "This was no more, no less than a plot to poison the public," anti-terrorism branch chief Peter Clarke said.

    The case, heard in June last year, was kept secret until Wednesday when Bourgass was convicted of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by using poisons or explosives and sentenced to a further 17 years jail.

    But in a bungled investigation that will dent Prime Minister Tony Blair's tough anti-terror reputation, Bourgass escaped conspiracy to murder charges.

    After an investigation straddling 17 countries, police were further embarrassed when eight other suspects were acquitted.

    Pressure focussed on Mr Blair yesterday following revelations Bourgass was refused asylum six months before he murdered Detective Oake.

    Shadow home secretary David Davis, whose leader Michael Howard has set about making immigration a top election issue, said Bourgass should have been deported in 2001 when his asylum application was finally rejected.

    "This failure was a direct consequence of the Government's chaotic asylum policy and its porous borders," said Mr Davis.

    Home Secretary Charles Clarke denied the case was a Government embarrassment.

    "This is an illustration of the fact that terrorist organisations exist and are seeking to damage our lives," he said.

    The case came on the day Labour pledged to speed up the removal of failed asylum seekers in its manifesto for the May 5 general election.

    Mr Blair has attacked Mr Howard for warning illegal immigrants represent a potential threat to Britain.

    Bourgass was among 100 arrested in 2003 after a tip-off from suspect Mohammed Meguerba.

    Merguerba had skipped bail and fled to Algeria but was arrested and interrogated there. He told of Bourgass's plans for mass murder in the British capital.

    The al-Qaeda plot to poison Britain
    How high street poison plot ended in a bedsit bloodbath
    Mystery remains on killer's identity
    Informer's arrest brought down plan
    Bungled Special Branch raid left policeman dead
    Eight Algerians cleared of involvement in plot


    Police killer and his plot to poison Britain


    Key points
    Al-Qaeda suspect jailed for policeman's murder during arrest for poison plot
    Kamel Bourgass planned attack on buildings and consumer goods in London
    Laboratory to make ricin, cyanide and botulinum found at his home

    Key quote
    "These were no playtime recipes. These are recipes that experts give credence to and experiments show work. They are scientifically viable and potentially deadly" - Nigel Sweeney, QC

    Story in full AN AL-QAEDA suspect has been jailed for murdering a Special Branch detective and plotting to terrorise Britain with the deadly poison ricin, it was revealed yesterday.

    Police believe Kamel Bourgass, 31, a failed Algerian asylum-seeker, planned to smear poison on door handles of cars and buildings in London and to use it in a spray or to contaminate consumer products.

    His home-made chemical weapons laboratory, in a flat in Wood Green, north London, included recipes and ingredients to make ricin, cyanide and botulinum - one of the most toxic substances known to man - and a blueprint for a bomb.

    Nine days after the discovery, in January 2003, DC Stephen Oake was killed when he was cornered in a flat in Manchester during a botched raid.

    Described as a "dedicated and dangerous" terrorist, Bourgass was yesterday jailed for 17 years for plotting to make poisons and explosives.

    It was also revealed yesterday that Bourgass was sentenced to life imprisonment following a trial last year for the murder of DC Oake and a further 15 years for the attempted murder of two police officers.

    Last night, the Tories criticised the government, blaming its "chaotic" asylum policy for the failure to deport Bourgass after his application for asylum was finally rejected in 2001. David Davis, the shadow home secretary, described the killing of DC Oake as a "tragedy" which should not have happened.

    Police believe Bourgass was part of a network of hundreds of Algerian terrorists spread across the West, thought to be linked to terror plots in the United States, France, Spain and Italy.

    Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard’s Anti-Terrorist Branch, said: "This was a hugely serious plot because what it had the potential to do was to cause real panic, fear, disruption and possibly even death to the public."

    During the trial, it was revealed that scientists at the Porton Down chemical warfare laboratories in Wiltshire later followed the poison instructions found in Bourgass’ flat. Their experiments produced enough ricin and cyanide to kill hundreds of people.

    Nigel Sweeney, QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey: "These were no playtime recipes. These are recipes that experts give credence to and experiments show work. They are scientifically viable and potentially deadly."

    Jailing Bourgass yesterday, Mr Justice Penry-Davey said: "You were, on the evidence, the prime mover in a terrorist operation involving the use of poisons and explosives, and intended to destabilise the community in this country by causing destruction, fear and injury."

    But Bourgass was not convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, and eight other north Africans were cleared of any role in the plot, in a setback that has led to criticisms of the Crown Prosecution Service and the police.

    Gareth Peirce, solicitor for three of the cleared men, said the case had been wrongly used to boost the argument for war in Iraq. On the eve of the US and British invasion there, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared to tell the United Nations that the London ricin plot was linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a leading militant in Iraq.

    Ms Peirce said: "There was a great deal that this country was led to believe that in part caused it to go to war on Iraq, erected on the basis of an alleged major conspiracy involving ricin. It is appropriate that that now is revisited."

    But Home Secretary Charles Clarke denied the case was an "embarrassment" for the government. Mr Clarke said: "I think that firstly this is an illustration of the fact that terrorist organisations exist and are seeking to damage our lives.

    "Secondly it has to urge us on to find better ways of dealing with the threat that they have. We will obviously keep a very close eye on the eight men being freed today, and consider exactly what to do in the light of this decision."

    The trial of Bourgass for murder and attempted murder, and the second trial which ended last Friday, have been subjected to reporting restrictions because he was seen as the plot’s "prime mover" and would have affected a third trial which collapsed yesterday.

    None of the trials or convictions could be reported until yesterday because of concerns over prejudicing proceedings.

    The chain of events which led to Scotland Yard and the security services foiling his ricin plot began when a nationwide series of anti-terrorist raids was launched in the late spring of 2002.

    Intelligence services were aware that Islamic fundamentalists, including many who had fled the US-led assault in Afghanistan, were using Britain as a base to raise money for terrorists abroad. The attempt to break the network led to more than 100 arrests, with investigations stretching from Bournemouth to Edinburgh.

    They followed a trail of suspects’ false documents and, in September 2002, found a copied set of recipes for ricin, cyanide, other poisons and a plans for a bomb at an address in Norfolk.

    A police source said: "Finding the ricin recipe in Thetford was a threshold, a defining moment. This was a very clear indicator that we were looking at operational terrorists as well as people supporting terrorist groups."

    But the key breakthrough came in December 2002, after a tenth alleged co-conspirator, an Algerian called Mohamed Meguerba, revealed details when he was arrested in Algeria. He said he had known Bourgass in London.

    Meguerba confessed to being a veteran of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and to having had numerous personal meetings with al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

    He claimed that Bourgass had also been in a mujahideen training camp in Afghanistan and was then selected for training in the making of poisons at an al-Qaeda camp.

    Bourgass, also known as Nadir Habra, went on the run after his attempts to make ricin and other poisons were discovered at the flat in Wood Green.

    When he was finally caught, by chance, after a raid in a house in Manchester where police were looking for another suspect, his role in the plot - and his desire to escape - became desperately apparent.

    Bourgass grabbed hold of a kitchen knife and killed DC Oake, stabbing him eight times. He also knifed three other policemen during his bloody escape bid.

    Despite the best efforts of the intelligence services both in Britain and abroad, it is impossible, even now, to be sure of Bourgass’s real identity and investigations continue into who he is.

    He had numerous false identities and at various times claimed to be from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, giving police dates of birth between 1973 and 1975.

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