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Blackburn terror accused: I wanted to start new life abroad
AN ALLEGED terrorist has said he intended to fly abroad not to spread extreme propaganda but to 'start a new life'.
Unemployed Abbas Iqbal, 24, Percival Street Blackburn, told Manchester Crown Court today that he hoped to take a job teaching the Koran in Northern Europe so he could pay for his wife to leave Pakistan and live with him.
The former Pleckgate High student said terrorism-related videos and pictures found on his phone at Manchester Airport last summer were merely part of a childhood obsession with action movies, computer games and weapons.
He said a video he filmed titled 'the Blackburn Resistance', featuring co-defendants Ilyas Iqbal, 23, also of Percival Street and Muhammad Ali Ahmad, 26, of Whalley Range, carrying out combat crawling in Corporation Park, was not evidence of military training.
He said they were paying homage to the action movie hero Arnold Swarzeneger and his film Predator which he had watched some 600 times.
Abbas Iqbal, who has no previous convictions, told the court: "It's something I've never grown out of.
"As I became older I lost my interest in toy cars but my interest in military films, Rambo, Predator, stuff like that, remained.
"I've watched Predator so many times I can read the whole script off by heart.
"It's just one of the most beautiful films ever made. It's a masterpiece."
Abbas Iqbal said he collected machetes and airguns and built a weapons cabinet only for display purposes.
He said: "The knives are beautiful. I like the shape of them, the weight of them, the way they felt.
'When I held a machete I owned it was something I was proud of."
Abbas said he began wanting to explore his religion and started wearing traditional Muslim clothes during his teens.
He studied Islamic theology at the college of Islamic Guidance and Knowledge but told the jury he left in May 2005 after he was attacked by a fellow pupil.
He told the court: "After I was attacked, I involved the police and the principal of the college blackmailed my father saying 'drop the case' or your child won’t be allowed back into the college.
"We wanted justice."
The court heard how Abbas finished his studies privately but, aside from a brief spell as a butcher, he struggled to find work.
He married in Pakistan in 2007 but had to return to Blackburn where he had lived all his life but could not afford to help bring his wife with him.
All three men are accused of preparation for acts of terrorism.