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The Security Service had placed a listening device in a car driven by one of the men as part of an investigation into a suspected terrorist network in East London, sources told the Daily Telegraph.
When transcribers went back over a conversation the men had held in the car, they were picked up discussing killing Gary Smith and praising Allah as they drove from the scene after attacking him.
Akmol Hussein, 27, Sheikh Rashid, 27, Azad Hussain, 26, and Simon Alam, 19, all admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent after ambushing Mr Smith outside his school.
Akmol Hussein was heard setting out the plan to attack Mr Smith, head of religious education at Central Foundation Girls’ School in Bow, east London, saying in a Bangladeshi dialect: ‘This is the dog we want to hit, to strike, to kill.’
‘He’s mocking Islam and he’s putting doubts in people’s minds…How can somebody take a job to teach Islam when they’re not even a Muslim themselves?’ he added.
Mr Smith, 37, had been head of religious studies at the school for eight years and was described as an able, enthusiastic and popular teacher.
He followed the national curriculum by teaching his pupils all six of the main religions along with ethical issues such as abortion and euthanasia and the role of women.
After the attack, the teacher was left with a four inch slash across his face from the corner of his mouth to his right ear and suffered a fractured skull and shattered jaw.
He underwent an operation to repair leg and facial wounds and nerve damage and did not regain consciousness until two days later.
Jailing the gang at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Judge Hand said they had “literally smashed Mr Smith’s face in.”
He said the motivation for the attack was solely down to the victim’s religious beliefs. He told them: “You believed there was a higher authority to which you were responsible and that authority dictated you must attack Mr Smith.
The judge added: ‘Only time will tell whether you will ever have a different belief but, at present, I believe that if you think that the people around you are guilty of posing a threat or insult to the way in which God intends the world to be and in which God intends people to live you would not hesitate in acting again in the way you have acted in this case.’
Judge Hand handed Akmol Hussein, a self-employed builder, and Azad Hussain, a finance worker, indeterminate sentences for public protection and ordered they serve at least five years before they can be released.
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