In the Media

Film of high-profile targets was made as a joke, trial told

PUBLISHED August 23, 2006

A MUSLIM student told a terror trial yesterday that he filmed a video of British landmarks that prosecutors claim was a visual guide for terrorists.

The locations in the film include Hyde Park, Big Ben, Parliament Square, the London Eye, Edgware Road Tube station and the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Rauf Abdullah Mohammad, 26, an Iraqi minicab driver, is charged with making a video likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000.

The prosecution claims that Mr Mohammad drove around London making a film showing ?high-profile targets? to help Islamic terrorists to plan and carry out an attack on the capital.

His friend, Maz Ibrahim, 25, a British Sudanese, yesterday gave evidence for the defence, saying that he was the unseen man holding a camcorder whose voice was recorded in Arabic saying: ?Rauf is planning a bombing operation.?

In the background of the video can be heard religious chants, sounds of machineguns and a missile exploding, and poems about martyrdom, killing and being killed in the name of Allah.

Mr Mohammad, from Forest Gate, East London, can allegedly be heard on the video discussing his hopes for the killing of Tony Blair, President Bush, Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Rumsfeld.

The true interpretation of the hour-long video, extracts from which have been shown several times to the jury, is central to the arguments at Woolwich Crown Court.

Mr Ibrahim, of Southwark, southeast London, told the jury that the video, which was made around September 2003, was no more than a tourist souvenir for overseas relatives and that the terrorism chat was just an example of the companions? ironic sense of humour. He said that his friend had wanted to make a tape to send back to relatives and suggested going to famous places in London.

Lawrence McNulty, for the defence, took Mr Ibrahim step-by-step through the tape. It begins with a busker in a subway near Marble Arch. The camcorder holder climbs steps to emerge into Hyde Park. He zooms in to a road sign.

?I just like details of things,? Mr Ibrahim said.

The film has a number of shots of police officers. Mr Ibrahim explained that he wanted to show how helpful British constables could be, for example giving people directions.

?There?s a huge difference between the police in the UK and the police back home,? he said. ?Back home for no reason they just do anything to you.?

After a long passage showing people at Speakers? Corner, Mr Mohammad is filmed heading for his car. Mr Ibrahim gets into the passenger seat.

The car stereo plays Islamic chants and the video pans upwards to Paddington Green police station. The men can be heard speaking.
?I was teasing him,? Mr Ibrahim said. ?I said he was planning a bombing operation. I used to always like to tease him, calling him a terrorist. I used to make jokes like that. It?s just a bit of a stereotype that people have against certain individuals. It was just a joke because people say that people with long beards are terrorists.?
Next, Mr Mohammad is heard on the video discussing killing the Prime Minister and Western leaders. Mr Ibrahim said that he did not think that his friend had been at all serious about killing Mr Blair.

As the film pans to show pretty women, Mr Mohammad is heard to make a remark. Mr Ibrahim said: ?He was teasing me about filming the girls. He doesn?t really look at girls. It doesn?t mean he doesn?t have interest in women, obviously.?

The trial continues.