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» 19.11.2009 - Gambian president withdraws from Commonwealth meeting

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Terrorist risks deportation

afrol News, 21 February - A convicted Gambian terrorist, Basiru Gassama, risks deportation to his native country after he had served two years in UK prisons.

Gassama, 30, hailed from Brikama town, 30 km from the capital Banjul. His only crime for the conviction was to conceal terrorism information.

The son of an influential civic educationists, Momodou Gassama, Basiru was accused of aiding and abetting a terrorist leader, Parviz Khan to behead a service man in Birmingham. Khan had pleaded guilty to the charge and supply of equipment to terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Gambian maintained his innocence. But the Leicester Crown court found him culpable of his failure to disclose information on the plot.

“You knew in very great detail what Parviz Khan was planning,” Justice Henriques told Gassama.

Khan was slammed a 24-year jail term while his other convicts - Zahoor Iqbal, Mohammed Irfan and Hamid Elasmar - were respectively given seven, four and three years sentences. They men, who are all resident in the UK, were found guilty of helping to supply terrorists materials as well as recruit Gassama.

Before their arrest and prosecution, the terrorists had reportedly travelled out of UK with the well-versed Gambian Muslim.

Prosecutors said Khan had grown into an "extremist obsessed" environment, which gave him the audacity to follow the speeches of al-Qaeda leaders. Justice Henriques accused Khan of "deterring any Muslim from joining the British army."

The court described Iqbal of being in possession of the most violent and extreme Islamist views who had plotted to kill a soldier and film the brutal killing. He said the mood would undermine the morale of the British army.

Khan's lawyer pleaded the court to temper justice with mercy because his client's crime had been a "mixture of fanaticism and fantasy.

"“If there had been a genuine threat, the buggers would have stopped it much earlier. There was a long way to go," Michael Wolkind said, adding that Khan's plans might have changed had British foreign policy changed. "He might have withdrawn if the British troops were withdrawn.”

But the judge maintained that Khan's actions had demoralised the British army and destabilise recruitment.

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