New film ‘Birmingham 4’ claims terrorist gang ‘Three Musketeers’ wrongly convicted

A new documentary claims a city terror gang, jailed over a foiled bomb and knife plot, were wrongly convicted. ‘Birmingham 4’ will explore the case of Naweed Ali, Khobaib Hussain, Mohibur Rahman and Tahir Aziz.

The men, who called themselves the ‘Three Musketeers’ in encrypted group chats, were jailed for life in 2017 after being found guilty of planning a knife and bomb rampage. During their arrests, part of Birmingham city centre was evacuated.

A court heard how the the gang sought out infamous Islamic State supporter Anjem Choudary before they prepared to strike police and military targets on British soil.

Read more:Mum of Birmingham pub bombings victim launches civil case against Belfast man and police

The men were arrested after MI5 went to bug Naweed Ali’s car, only to uncover a pipe bomb and meat cleaver hidden in a JD Sports bag. The men denied the charges, and claimed incriminating evidence was planted.

(left to right) Tahir Aziz, Naweed Ali, Mohibur Rahman and Khobaib Hussain

The documentary, produced by organisation CAGE, will screen on Friday (June 24) exclusively in Birmingham. It will see former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and human rights campaigner Moazzam Begg investigate the case.

A synopsis of the film reads: “Their dramatic arrest in 2016, complete with the evacuation of an area in the city centre, a bomb-disposal unit and a media frenzy, ultimately led to their conviction and sentencing. But things are not always as they seem.

Hatchet that was found stashed in Naweed Ali's Seat Leon car, with the word kafir (Arabic for non-believer or infidel) scratched on the blade
Hatchet that was found stashed in Naweed Ali’s Seat Leon car, with the word kafir (Arabic for non-believer or infidel) scratched on the blade

“Moazzam Begg takes the viewers inside the dark world of undercover policing, and explores how the four Muslim men fell prey to a sting operation mounted by the West Midlands Police.

It (the film) reveals disturbing similarities to the infamous case of the Irish Birmingham 6, convicted for crimes they didn’t commit in the 70s.”

Ali, then aged 30, and Hussain, 25, both of Evelyn Road, Sparkhill, and Rahman, 34, of High Lane, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, were each given minimum terms of 20 years.

Aziz, 39, of Wulstan Road, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for at least 15 years for his lesser role.

After the conviction, Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of West Midlands Police’s counter terrorism unit, said the men had been planning a “mass casualty attack”. He described the investigation as one of the most “demanding, challenging and ambitious” operations the force had ever mounted.

He also defended the use of undercover tactics saying they were necessary to catch what he described as “really dangerous individuals.”

He added: “What we can be clear about is these men have a very clear extremist ideology, one base around hatred, one based around using violence to get their ends.

“There is no doubt had the plot not been stopped, there would have been a loss of life.

“I’m really proud of our officers, I’m particularly proud of our undercover operatives who were in an incredibly dangerous situation.

“They were living and working alongside a very dangerous group of individuals, who – if their cover had been blown at any stage their lives would have been at risk.”

*To watch the film this Friday, register your interest by clicking here.

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