Somalian jihad course attendee tells court group was in Scotland to hunt the Loch Ness monster
December 19, 2007
Terror Accused: We Were Hunting Loch Ness Monster Dec 15 2007 By Paul O'Hare
The Daily Record (Scotland)
AN ELECTRICIAN accused of being a Muslim holy warrior claimed he was hunting Nessie during an alleged jihad training course.
Somali-born Kader Ahmed, 20, told a court he went on a trip arranged by preacher Mohammed Hamid, 50, to Scotland at Christmas 2004.
He said they visited Inverness and Loch Ness and added: "I'd never been to Scotland before. It was very cold when we went up. It was snowing.
"It was very beautiful as well. I had never seen reindeer before."
He said they stopped near Loch Ness for a few days, sleeping in their minibus as it was too cold to camp, and tried to spot the elusive monster.
Ahmed, from east London, admits going on camping trips and paintballing sessions with Hamid's group, who included four of the men later convicted of the plot to bomb London on July 21, 2005.
But the trainee electrician, who was 17 when he met Hamid, told Woolwich Crown Court he assumed it was harmless fun "like Scouts or Cadets".
He denies three counts of attending a place used for terrorist training.
Ahmed said he started turning to religion in the summer of 2004 when he met Hamid at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park.
He first went camping to Baysbrown Farm in Great Langdale, Cumbria - where the July 21 plotters also went - in August 2004.
It was the first time he had been outside London since moving there when he was four or five.
He said: "I imagined it as seeing the countryside and doing activities. I was excited about it."
His barrister, Hugh Mullan, asked him: "Was the atmosphere solemn and militaristic?"
Ahmed replied: "No, it wasn't. There was lots of joking. It was very beautiful. It was something new.
"It was fairly busy - a lot of tourists. They were kind of shocked at the big beards but we spoke to them just to break the ice."
Ahmed said he was told by someone else who went to see Hamid - dubbed Osama bin London - speak in Hyde Park that he organised activities for young people.
He said: "When I first went (to Hamid's house),it was all open. There were a lot of people my age saying, 'We're gonna do this, we're gonna do that'.
"It was friendly and warm. It was just relaxed, just people talking."
Ahmed claimed Hamid, who is alleged to have been the recruiter and trainer of a terrorist cell, told him the group were not breaking the law.
He added he believed Hamid had sought guidance from a friendly police officer on the issue.
Ahmed was one of a group of Hamid's followers who used to help the preacher at an Islamic stall near Marble Arch, in central London.
They wore traditional Muslim dress, gave out free religious literature and were a familiar sight to police officers based at nearby Marylebone police station.
Ahmed said Hamid approached a senior cop, who he could not identify, after the attacks in July 2005 to ask him about the legality of the camping trips. He added that Hamid had told him "a number of times" that the group were not breaking the law by going camping and paintballing.
Mr Mullan asked him: "Did you think you were being trained to go and fight in a foreign country?"
Ahmed replied: "Never, no."
He accepted the terrorists convicted of the July 21 plot were part of the extended group that used to attend Hamid's events in 2004 and 2005.
But he said he was with Hamid on a camping trip in France in the immediate aftermath of the failed bomb attack and did not know his acquaintances Ramzi Mohammed, Hussain Osman and Muktar Ibrahim had been arrested until he returned.
He said: "We thought it was like a frame-up."
He said he later subscribed to a theory that the same anti-Muslim elements were responsible for faking the September 11 attacks on America and the London attacks.
Ahmed is standing trial with Hamid, 50, Kibley Da Costa, 24, Mohammed Al Figari, 42, and Mousa Brown, 41, who all deny terrorist-linked charges.
The trial continues.