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UK NRI cleared of Al-Qaeda ties

Palvinder Singh has been cleared of organising cash and military supplies for Al-Qaeda.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 19:03 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A former delivery company worker of Indian origin has been cleared of helping to supply cash, arms and military equipment to a terror group allegedly linked to the Al-Qaeda.

Palvinder Singh, the former worker, reportedly visited a body armour factory in Canada, arranged shipments of goods to Pakistan, and had huge sums passing through his bank account.

But Coventry-based Singh, 30, told London's Snaresbrook Crown Court this week that he had never heard of the militant group Lashker-e-Taiba and explained that the only reason he was in the dock was because of his childhood friend.

Singh, who expressed himself strongly against terrorism and against anyone supporting it, maintained that when he had allowed Mohammed Ajmal Khan to use both his bank accounts and his debit and credit cards as a favour, he never knew what the money was being used for.

"I have no idea where it came from but it had nothing to do with me," he told the court and added he had always believed that the trip to Canada was simply a fabric bulk buying expedition.

The jury trying the six-week trial took just over four hours to acquit Singh of conspiracy.

Khan, 30, also from Coventry, admitted his role and is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Andrew Edis, prosecuting lawyer, said that Lashker-e-Taiba was involved in operating training camps in Pakistan "for young Muslim men from everywhere in the world".

He added: "When they go to join in the fight in that part of the world, which involved fighting in Afghanistan, they are just boys from America or the UK and they need to be trained into the best that can be made of them, as soldiers or terrorists."

Edis claimed that between 2000 and 2003, Singh was effectively used as "cover" to hide some of Khan's suspicious activities. As a Sikh and not a Muslim, he would, perhaps, be viewed with "less suspicion".

Edis said the large payments into the defendant's bank account by "unknown people" came from all over the country. He alleged Singh also paid 555 pounds for Khan's hang-gliding lessons - possibly with a view to be able to traverse mountain ranges.

During his evidence, Singh said of the terror group: "I would not support them... I would grass anyone like that up and tell the police. If someone said they were in some kind of terrorist organisation, I would think and tell the cops what this person is saying to me."

Asked if that included his close friend, Khan, Singh replied: "Even if it was my brother."

First Published: Mar 10, 2006 12:19 IST