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A British Terror Suspect May Have Been Plotting to Kill Tony Blair

Prosecutors say Erol Incedal, the defendant in a London terror trial, was found with the address of the prime minister who took the UK into Iraq.
Image via Flickr

A British man at the center of a major terrorism trial could have been planning to kill the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a London court heard on Tuesday.

Erol Incedal, 26, may also have been plotting a "Mumbai-style" terror attack on Britain's streets, prosecutors told the court on the opening day of the trial.

The former prime minister's address was found in Incedal's car when it was pulled over and searched on 30 September 2013. Prosecutor Richard Whittam, QC, told the jury in London's Old Bailey that it was written on a piece of paper in a Versace glasses case. A handwritten note was also found, saying: "Oh you the believers, fight those of the infidel who are near to you. Why do you not fight in Allah's cause for those oppressed men, women and children who cry out: 'Rescue us from this town.'"

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A listening device was later placed in the car, which recorded Incedal speaking about his need for an "illegal house" to store material in, the prosecutor said. The following month Incedal was arrested, along with Mounir Ramoul-Bouhadjar, 26. Whittam said that both men had memory cards with information about bomb-making hidden in the cases of their iPhones.

Whittam told the jury: "You will hear that he [Incedal] was actively engaged with another or others who were abroad. The prosecution case is that such engagement was for an act, or acts of terrorism, either against a limited number of individuals, an individual of significance, or a more wide-ranging and indiscriminate attack, such as the one in Mumbai in 2008 — an attack on members of the public in general, particularly in a hotel."

In 2008 Pakistani terrorists coordinated bombing and shooting attacks across Mumbai, killing 164 people in four days.

Last week Ramoul-Bouhadjar admitted possession of material used for terrorism, the jury heard, but Incedal denies both possession of material, and the preparation of acts of terrorism.

Whittam told the court that there is no evidence that Incedal had "settled on a specific target or a particular methodology, but in the context of the case as a whole and the evidence that I am going to come to, you may think that this address does have some significance."

Tony Blair served as British prime minister for ten years, between 1997 and 2007. He has since remained involved with international politics, including as Middle East peace envoy. He has faced huge criticism for leading the UK into the Iraq War, with some experts claiming that the 2003 invasion led to the rise in "fundamentalist terrorism" in a region where there previously was very little.

This case is the first major terror trial to be heard almost entirely in secret in Britain, according to Sky News. After a challenge brought by media organizations some journalists will be admitted, but are unable to report on most of the trial proceedings on the basis of national security.

A jury of eight women and four men were sworn in on Monday. Mr Justice Nicol told the jurors not to discuss the facts of the case with anyone, but to judge the case "coolly and dispassionately."

Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd

Image supplied by the Center for American Progress via Flickr