BA worker held ‘secret meeting’ with associate at Heathrow, terrorism trial told

Terrorism in the UK

A British Airways worker accused of planning a terrorist attack held a “John Le Carré“-style secret meeting with an associate at Heathrow, a court heard.

Courts artist’s impression of British Airways computer expert Rajib Karim, 30, of Newcastle upon Tyne, appearing at City of Westminster Magistrates Photo: PA

2:07PM GMT 16 Feb 2011

Rajib Karim, 31, went to Terminal 5 clutching a copy of a newspaper as instructed in a coded e-mail from a friend in Bangladesh known only as ‘Brett’.

Karim had been given the codename ‘Carl’ and was told to look out for ‘Terry’, a man holding a copy of the Guardian in his left hand and wearing a watch on his right wrist, Woolwich Crown Court.

Karim, who was holding an Independent, met with Terry, real name Yacoub Ali, before flying to Bangladesh to visit family.

The meeting took place in late January or early February 2009, but Karim had been sent detailed instructions the previous November, jurors were told.

The coded message was sent by ‘Brett’, a conduit between Karim and his younger brother Tehzeeb, informing Karim that a ‘brother’ he has never met before is coming to Britain, which is referred to as ‘Brazil’.

Karim has told the court that the messages were encrypted and coded because of fears for the safety of those still in Bangladesh.

He has denied he and his brother were members of the proscribed terror group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), but has admitted fund-raising for it and creating a video promoting its work.

Karim’s barrister James Wood QC described the Heathrow meeting as a ‘John Le Carre moment’ referring to the famous spy writer.

In the message entitled ‘Bro has already left for Brazil, ‘Brett’ wrote: ‘He will have a Guardian newspaper in his left hand and a watch on his right wrist. His name is Terry and yours is Carl.

‘You will have an independent newspaper with you. Introduce yourself or ask him if he is Terry or any way you think is appropriate.’

Mr Wood also referred to the incident as the ‘secret flower meeting’.

Karim admitted meeting Ali at terminal five before he flew to Bangladesh.

‘Did he have a copy of the Guardian,’ asked the barrister.

‘He did,’ replied Karim..

‘Did you carry an Independent?’ said Mr Wood.

‘I did,’ said Karim.

Karim, a BA software engineer, is accused of conspiring with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to blow-up a US-bound plane.

The preacher instructed him to take advantage of strike action at the airline to train as cabin crew with the aim of getting a package on board an aircraft, it is said.

Giving evidence Karim has said he would ‘never’ have launched a terror attack in the UK.

He has told the court he was focused on raising money for and spreading the message of JMB and at times felt ‘useless’ while living in Newcastle.

Karim spent two years working on a four-part two and-a-half hour long video on the plight of JMB but admitted there was ‘not much’ impact when it was released in December 2008.

He added: ‘In Islam what we believe is if you put in the effort, whatever happens, if you don’t get the results in this life you will get rewarded and that is what I feel.’

Karim also claimed his brother Tehzeeb was ‘ambitious but not realistic’ about his plans for JMB.

It is alleged Karim led a double life as a quiet family man in front of work colleagues at the Newcastle call centre, while remaining ‘entirely committed to the an extreme jihadist and religious cause’.

He was arrested in February last year after communicating with al-Awlaki for about a month using coded messages sent over the internet.

Karim, from Newcastle, denies four further counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts.

He has pleaded guilty to charges relating to producing a video for a terrorist organisation, fund-raising, and offering himself and encouraging others to volunteer for terrorist operations abroad.

The trial continues.

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