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British suspect planned attacks on U.S., UK, France targets, Kenyan court hears

British citizen Jermaine Grant (C) is escorted into court for a hearing in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Joseph Ok
British citizen Jermaine Grant (C) is escorted into court for a hearing in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Joseph Ok

By Joseph Akwiri

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - British national Jermaine Grant, on trial in Kenya accused of planning an attack there, was targeting British, French and U.S. interests, a London detective told the court on Tuesday.

Kenyan police suspect Grant, from east London, has ties to the Somali al Shabaab rebel group blamed by the authorities for a string of attacks in the port city of Mombasa, the capital Nairobi and in the remote hinterlands bordering Somalia.

Steve Ball, a London police forensic examiner, said officers had retrieved files gathered from several websites, including instructions on making chemical bombs and literature related to jihad, from a memory device belonging to Grant.

"There were documents recovered from the disk which called for Muslim faithful to attack Egyptian, British, French and American interests, and their partners," Ball said in a report he read out to the court as evidence.

Kenyan police had requested London police's help in the investigation into Grant.

He denies the charge against him of planning an attack after being found with bomb-making material that included batteries, wire, ammonium nitrate, lead nitrate, acetone and hydrogen peroxide when he was arrested in 2012 in Mombasa.

Ball said the documents they found did not specify where the targets were.

Kenya is still reeling from an al Shabaab attack on a luxury shopping mall in Nairobi, popular with foreigners, where at least 67 people were killed in September.

Among the documents recovered in the disk was one labeled "Mujahedeen Explosive Handbook" and another titled "Explosives Introduction" which referred to bomb attacks in Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, Ball said.

"These files speak for themselves and show the person's interest in the construction of an improvised explosive device ... and with the chemicals, files show intent to obtain the materials to make such a device," Ball told the court.

"The majority of the documents found on the disk are ideological and extreme in their views, and tend to advocate for the taking up of arms in the name of jihad."

Ball said of 127 files that had been deleted on the disk, 125 were recovered at British police laboratories

He said voltmeters recovered from Grant's apartment could be used to construct bomb detonator circuits.

Grant was arrested in an apartment prosecutors say he shared with Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of a suicide bomber involved in the July 2005 attacks on London's transport network.

She is wanted by Kenyan police on terrorism related charges but is still on the run. Lewthwaite is believed to have evaded arrest two years ago in Mombasa, where she is wanted in a plot to bomb hotels and restaurants, while working with Grant.

Grant is on trial with his Kenyan female companion Islam Warda and Frank Nyengo, both of who deny the same charge. Another suspect, Fouad Abubakar escaped after he had been released on bail.

(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Alison Williams)

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