The court sentencing the nine men from Cardiff, London and Stoke, was told that the plans had moved on significantly from when they formed the extremist network at a meeting in Roath Park, Cardiff, on November 7 2010.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said: “The group developed over the indictment period from what may have been an exploratory meeting on November 7 to a high level commitment to jihad by the time of the arrests.”
The nine men – Mohammed Chowdhury, 21, and Shah Rahman, 28, both from London; Gurukanth Desai, 30, Abdul Miah, 25, and Omar Latif, 28, all from Cardiff; and Usman Khan, 20, Mohammed Shahjahan 27, Nazam Hussain, 26, and Mohibur Rahman, 27, all from Stoke-on-Trent – pleaded guilty last week to a variety of terrorist offences.
Shahjahan was referred to as the “emir”, or leader, by other members of the group and had “something of a media profile”, the hearing was told.
He once appeared on a BBC documentary talking about his beliefs and how the 9/11 attacks on the US “changed his life”, Mr Edis said.
Chowdhury, described as the “lynchpin” of the group, contacted the Cardiff and Stoke radicals using the online chatroom Paltalk and made far more phone calls to the other members than anybody else.
He attended poppy-burning protests and used the online identity “JMB”, which stands for Jammat-ul Mujhahideen Bangladesh, a banned terrorist organisation in the UK.
Some London and Cardiff members of the group discussed launching a “Mumbai-style” atrocity, while the Stoke extremists talked about setting off pipe bombs in the toilets of two pubs in their home town, the court heard.
A handwritten target list found at one of the defendants’ homes listed the names and addresses of London mayor Boris Johnson, two rabbis, the American embassy and the London Stock Exchange.
The prosecutor said the Stoke members decided to stick with their original plan to recruit fellow British radicals to undergo terrorist training in the disputed Kashmir region, which is divided between Pakistan and India.
“A trained terrorist is himself a deadly weapon,” he said.
Inspire was first produced by Yemen-based extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s terror group al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in 2010.
Mr Edis said the magazine’s publication marked a new tactic for al Qaida leaders, who could not easily travel or communicate with fellow radicals to promote their cause of violent jihad.
“A safer alternative is to use the internet to spread the message, hoping that radicals in the UK or elsewhere will see it and be inspired to do as they are asked,” he said.
“They know that there are some – not many – people in this country who espouse the cause of radical Islam... and may be converted by the right message into being the perpetrator of an attack themselves.”
The prosecutor added: “There is evidence against each of these nine defendants either proving that they had detailed knowledge of the contents of Inspire or that they actually possessed copies of it themselves.”
The court heard that some of the defendants already had convictions and were known to the British authorities.
But Mr Edis said having a high profile could in itself be “a form of cover” from detection by the security services because it was hard to spot when someone with extreme views was converted to plotting an attack.
Chowdhury, of Stanliff House, Tower Hamlets, east London; Shah Rahman, of St Bernard’s Road, Newham, east London; Desai, of Albert Street, Cardiff; and his brother Miah, of Ninian Park Road, Cardiff, admitted preparing for acts of terrorism by planning to plant a bomb in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange.
Khan, of Persia Walk; Shahjahan, of Burmarsh Walk; and Hussain, of Grove Street, all in Stoke-on-Trent, admitted engaging in the preparation of terrorism by attending operational meetings in Roath Park, Cardiff, on November 7 2010 and in Cwmcarn country park near Newport, south Wales, on December 12 2010.
Latif, of Neville Street, Cardiff, admitted attending the meetings with the intention of assisting others to prepare or commit acts of terrorism.
Mohibur Rahman, of North Road, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted possessing copies of Inspire for terrorist purposes.
All the men are British citizens, apart from Chowdhury and Shah Rahman, who were born in Bangladesh but had been living in the UK for some time.