AN ISLAMIC extremist working as a British Airways computer expert on Tyneside plotted to blow up a plane bound for America with the help of a radical preacher, a court heard.
In secret emails with cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, Bangladeshi Rajib Karim shared details of his BA contacts from his home in Brunton Lane, Gosforth, Newcastle, the jury at Woolwich Crown Court was told.
And in detailed exchanges he committed himself to die in a “spectacular” suicide attack that would bring him “martyrdom”, it was said.
The 31-year-old, who came to the UK in 2006, worked for BA in the city and had access to the airliner’s offices there and at Heathrow.
The court was told Karim established a deep cover, joining a gym, playing football and never airing extreme views.
All the while, he was allegedly communicating with a terror cell and al-Awlaki who has never been caught and is believed to be hiding in the mountains of Yemen.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said: “He is, as the prosecution would describe him, an Islamic extremist, with close association to, if not membership of, a proscribed terrorist organisation called Jamaat-Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).”
He added: “The defendant, as you will see from his own writings, was anxious himself to carry out such an attack and he was determined to seek martyrdom – to die and to sacrifice himself for his cause.” Karim is accused of plotting to blow up a plane, sharing information of use to hate groups such as al-Qaida, offering to help financial or disruptive attacks on BA and gaining a UK job to “exploit terrorist purposes”, charged he denies.
The jury of seven men and five women were told that Karim has already pleaded guilty to three terror charges.
Mr Laidlaw said the defendant’s offences were preparing himself or others for terrorist attacks between December 2006 and his arrest in February last year.
He has admitted being involved in the production of a terrorist group’s video, fundraising and volunteering for terror abroad. Karim came to the UK from Bangladesh in late 2006 with his wife Zijarin Raja and their toddler son because they believed the boy had cancer, it was said.
But the child, now aged five, did not have cancer and has recovered from his sickness after being treated here. Those who knew him described Karim as “mild-mannered, well-educated and respectful”.
He attended two mosques – Grange Park Mosque and University of Newcastle Mosque – and was not known to hold extreme views, the court heard.
“It was as far as anybody could tell a perfectly ordinary life he was living,” said Mr Laidlaw. “As we will see, the defendant had in fact made a very conscious and successful effort to adopt this low profile.”
He arrived in late 2006 as a JMB media operative, said the barrister, saying it was his job to distribute jihadist texts, recordings and videos and establish websites and forums.