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Bail, but Ramani in a soup still

19:19 PM September 15, 2006
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London: The much dreaded ISI-Al Qaeda-Taliban-Kashmiri militant nexus has come to light in a London courtroom where the hearing in the March 2004 fertiliser bomb terror trial is on. One of the main accused in the trial, Omar Khyam has made a few startling statements in his defence that clearly establish a growing merger of Al-Qaeda and the Kashmiri militants under the aegis of Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI). Twenty-four year old Khyam told the court on Thursday about his radicalisation process after a visit to an ISI-backed Pakistani training camp for militants fighting in Kashmir and a trip to Afghanistan to meet the Taliban. Khyam was arrested along with six others including his brother Shujah Mahmood in 2004 after fertiliser explosives were found in a storage depot in west London. He and his associates, alleged to belong to terror cell of Al-Qaida, have been charged of plotting to bomb nightclubs and other places in United Kingdom. In his testimony on Thursday, Khyam stated how he came to know of the fighting in Kashmir between India and Pakistan with the ISI recruiting and training irregular mujahideen. A Guardian report quoted Khyam as saying, “I wanted to dedicate myself to helping Kashmiri Muslims, and go to Pakistan for military training.” In January 2000 he ran away to Pakistan and joined an ISI-run training camp for militants in the mountains near Rawalpindi, when he was just 18-years old. "They told me everything I needed to know for fighting guerrilla warfare in Kashmir. That included training with AK47 rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns as well as reconnaissance and sniper techniques,” he added. After his training, he visited Kabul where the Taliban impressed him adding, "They were soft, kind and humble, but harsh with their enemies”, Khyam told court. But after the defeat of the Taliban by the NATO forces who took over Kabul, Khyam and his colleagues decided to return to their native countries with an aim to “establish an Islamic State.” Narrating his ideological journey, Khyam said, “I was born here and felt allegiance” but later joined an ISI-training camp for mujahideens in Kashmir, since ‘I wanted to help Kashmiri Muslims.” Later ‘impressed’ by the Taliban, Khyam said that he was elated by the September 11 attacks. Regarding Osama bin Laden, Khyam told the court, “In Afghanistan he (Laden) won people's hearts and minds. People love him all over the region. There are pictures of him all over the place in Pakistan." However, all the seven accused have been denying charges of conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life between January 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004. Khyam also denied charge of possessing 600kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser for carrying out terror attacks. However, in a two-and-a-half minute-long video footage, Khyam is seen walking into the room, peering into the explosive containing bag and marking the point where the powder came up to in the bag, fearing it might be tampered with. Khyam was tracked by MI5 surveillance and anti-terrorist branch for six weeks after being alerted by the workers of the depot, where the fertiliser was stored.