A SUSPECTED Islamic terrorist threatened to kill one of his flatmates for playing the guitar, a court heard today.
Devout Muslim Bilal Abdulla told the man to “stop playing and start praying” after taking offence at the instrument, a jury was told.
Woolwich Crown Court heard evidence of an intimidating exchange at his Cambridge flat in 2005 from former friend Shiraz Maher.
Mr Maher said the two students were working at their computers when a third man started to play a guitar in another room.
Abdulla gestured towards a violent video of an ambush of an American Humvee vehicle in Iraq on his computer.
Mr Maher said: “He made reference to one of those grisly, very grisly videos that would come out of Iraq at that time.
“He said, ’I told him, you need to stop playing and start praying otherwise this is what we do - we slaughter.”’
He added: “Immediately after saying it Bilal laughed heartily and I remember laughing as well.
“The reason it stayed so vividly in my memory was the degree to which it was disproportionate.”
Mr Maher explained some strict Muslims would view string instruments as “completely forbidden within Islam”.
The journalist said he was a member of radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahir at that time but he now works to combat extremism.
Mr Maher said Abdulla was studying for an exam that would enable him to practice medicine in Britain.
He revealed that Abdulla held extremist views and supported attacks on the minority Shia population in Iraq.
Abdulla, 29, is on trial with a second man, Mohammed Asha, 28, accused of conspiracy to murder and to cause explosions.
The two men, who worked as doctors at hospitals in Glasgow and Stoke, Staffs, deny the offences.
Abdulla drove one of two Mercedes car bombs to London’s West End in June 2007, the court has heard.
The next day he was the passenger in a Jeep Cherokee, laden with gas cylinders and petrol, that was rammed into Glasgow Airport.
Abdulla was one of several young academics who met at the Gilbert Road Islamic centre to pray and discuss religion, the court heard.
His friend Kafeel Ahmed, 29, who drove the Jeep into Glasgow Airport and later died from burns, lived in a rented room at the property.
Mr Maher said he met Abdulla and Ahmed after evening prayers at the Abu Bakr Mosque on his first night in Cambridge in 2004.
The court has heard co-defendant Asha was also studying in Cambridge at this time and also became friends with the pair.
Mr Maher said: “Abdulla was very knowledgeable about Islamic issues, certainly among our group of friends one of the most knowledgeable.”
Abdulla’s friendship with Ahmed became stronger during their time in Cambridge, the jury was told.
Mr Maher said Ahmed was less religious and often remained silent during animated discussions on Islam.
He said Abdulla was the “dominant personality” and impressed others with his ability to recite large parts of the Koran.
He said: “The relationship between Bilal and Kafeel was very close and during the course of the year that relationship was strengthened.”
Mr Maher said he considered recruiting both men to Hizb ut-Tahir, but thought they would refuse to join.
He travelled to the Regent’s Park Mosque, in London, with Abdulla in 2004 to pray overnight during Ramadan.
He said: “I noticed Bilal was incredibly committed that night and stayed in the mosque and was praying constantly throughout the night.”
Later, the court heard up to 19 friends and relatives of Abdulla had been killed in Iraq.
Jim Sturman, for Abdulla, said the young doctor, who holds dual nationality, regularly travelled to his homeland.
He said the Iraqi was “terrified” his family, including three sisters and several brothers, would be murdered.
Mr Sturman said: “He was very concerned about what was happening in Iraq, at one point he was crying that he was worried for his family.”
During his time in Cambridge, Abdulla played football and visited the Lake District on a Christmas walking trip, the court heard.
His friend Kamran Hussein, who advises the Government on drug safety, said he was shocked to learn he had been arrested.
The scientist told the court Abdulla was “friendly, joyful and amusing” and would be the “life and soul of a gathering”.
Mr Hussein said Abdulla was often asked to lead prayers but always refused “because he was humble”.
He told police in a statement: “I never had any idea Bilal would be involved. I was completely shocked and disappointed when I found out he was.
“In all the time I have known him he never mentioned anything about committing terrorist activities or supporting those activities.”
The trial continues.
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