LONDON – Three British Muslims, including a convert who was featured in a documentary about radical Islam and a former London police support officer, have been charged with traveling to Pakistan for terror training, police said Thursday.
Richard Dart, 29, Imran Mahmood, 21, and Jahangir Alom, 26, had traveled to Pakistan between 2010 and 2012 "with the intention of committing acts of terrorism or assisting another to commit such acts," Scotland Yard said in a statement. Police also alleged that the three provided others with advice and counseling about how to travel to Pakistan, find training and stay safe while there.
Two others, 22-year-old Ruksana Begum and 47-year-old Khalid Javed Baqa, were charged with having material likely to be useful for terrorism.
All five, who were kept in custody, had been arrested earlier this month, and at least two of the accused had previously come to public attention.
Dart was featured in a recent BBC documentary, "My Brother the Islamist," which chronicled the efforts of his filmmaker stepbrother Robb Leech to understand why the former had rejected his family and embraced an uncompromising form of Islam. He was also featured in a YouTube video in which he criticized the British royal family, the marriage of Prince William to the then-Kate Middleton and U.K. foreign policy.
Alom, a former police support officer who was arrested in a raid at his home, also made a YouTube appearance in which he expounded on his hardline beliefs.
The force said Begum was caught with a memory chip carrying issues of a publication it identified as "Inspire," the name given to al-Qaida's English-language magazine. Police said she had the documents "without reasonable excuse."
Police said Baqa, a local government worker, was also caught with issues of Inspire, along with several CDs containing the work "39 Ways to Support and Participate in Jihad."
All five appeared at London's Westminster Magistrates Court later Thursday. Dart, Mahmood, Alom and Begum were ordered to remain in custody until a hearing at London's Central Criminal Court on July 31; Baqa was ordered to remain in custody until July 26, when he is due to reappear at Westminster Magistrates Court.
Alom's home is only a mile (1.6 kilometers) from London's Olympic Stadium, while Mahmood lives just down the street from the site of a Royal Air Force at Northolt in northwest London, from where Typhoon jets and other military elements are due to provide security for the 2012 Games.
Nevertheless, police insisted the case has nothing to do with the games, which begin July 27.
Intelligence officials say there has been an expected increase in chatter among extremist groups before the games, but there are still no specific or credible threats targeting the Olympics. In late June, two Muslim men were arrested — and later released without charge — after they were spotted canoeing on the River Lee, a branch of which runs through the Olympic site.
Britain's terror level is labeled substantial, a notch below severe. A substantial threat level indicates that an attack is a strong possibility.
Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://raphae.li/twitter