By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
LONDON, Feb. 26 -- A man who boasted to police that he was "Osama bin London" was convicted Tuesday of running terrorist training camps in the English countryside, including at least one attended by five men convicted in a failed attempt to bomb London's public transit system on July 21, 2005.
Mohammed Hamid, 50, described by police as one of Britain's leading recruiters of Islamic extremists, was also convicted of encouraging Muslims attending the camps, as well as lengthy recruiting sessions in his London home, to murder "nonbelievers."
During his four-month trial in Woolwich Crown Court, prosecutors said Hamid had told associates that the deaths of 52 people in the July 7, 2005, bombings of London trains and a bus were "not even breakfast for me."
After those attacks, prosecutors said, Hamid sent a text message to Hussain Osman, one of the men convicted of attempting an almost identical attack two weeks later.
The text said, according to testimony: "We fear no one except Allah. We will not change our ways, we are proud to be Muslim and we will not hide."
At the trial, prosecutors said they could not prove that Hamid was directly involved in the July 21 attacks. But they said he was a friend of the would-be bombers, had helped train them at his camps and contributed to their thinking about religious extremism.
Seven other associates of Hamid's have either been convicted or pleaded guilty to related charges. Evidence at the trial included hours of surveillance tapes recorded by British security operatives who had installed listening devices in Hamid's home.
Police said Hamid was an associate of Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical Islamic cleric who is serving a prison term in Britain and faces extradition to the United States to face charges that he established a terrorist training camp in Oregon.
Hamid had been well known in London for years because of his frequent speeches at the famous Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. He also ran a bookstall in central London.
Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke of the Metropolitan Police said the men involved in the July 21 attacks were "serious, determined terrorists."