The jailing of a fanatic who plotted to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier should serve as a wake-up call to the West Midlands, the police officer heading the region's counter-terrorism effort warned.
Parviz Khan, from Birmingham, was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment after admitting masterminding the plot. He will serve a minimum 14 years but was told it was impossible to predict when, if ever, he would be released.
Refusing to turn up to Leicester Crown Court, Khan was handed the minimum 14-year term in his absence after he pleaded guilty previously to the plan and to the supply of equipment for terrorists on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Four men were sentenced with him - one for failing to tell police about Khan's plot and three for helping the 37-year-old with his illicit supply line. Another defendant, Amjad Mahmood, 32, of Jackson Road, Alum Rock, was cleared by the jury of knowing about the plot and failing to tell the authorities, and supplying equipment.
The convictions came after a lengthy investigation led by the newly formed West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, one of three regional "hubs" aimed at combating terrorism.
Assistant Chief Constable Anil Patani, who heads security and cohesion for West Midlands Police, said it was undeniable proof violent extremists were living in local communities and it was vital everyone worked together to foil terrorism.
He also stressed the need to address the influences that made some people susceptible to extremist propaganda and hit back at community leaders who had criticised police for the high-profile arrests in January last year.
In the wake of the operation - which saw nine men detained in early morning raids centred on south and east Birmingham - West Midlands Police and the Government came under fire from some sections of the local community for "persecuting" Muslims.
Mr Patani yesterday said the police and security services had now been vindicated.
Urging everyone to recognise that the terrorist threat was enduring and real, he added: "Communities need to realise that there are within our communities people who are prepared to perpetrate such acts."
Citing bombings such as the July 7 atrocities and the attack on Glasgow Airport as evidence that terrorism poses a grave danger, Mr Patani acknowledged that some residents did feel "threatened" by large-scale police operations such as that which took place in Birmingham on January 31 last year.
But, he said, those who initially doubted the motives of the police would perhaps now want to "look in the mirror" at themselves.
"It's important to remind ourselves of what happened at the time and judge things in respect of outcomes.
"What this case proves is that where we have to take action, we will be firm, we will be effective and will protect people in our communities."
Among those who criticised the way the raids were carried out and some media reporting was the chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque, Dr Mohammed Naseem.
Addressing the media at Friday prayers two days after the raids, he compared the political situation in Britain with that of Nazi Germany.
Yesterday, Dr Naseem remained defiant as he told The Birmingham Post he would react the same way if raids were carried out again under similar circumstances.
He said: "We are on the same side as the police but they will always arrest members of the community on suspicion before talking to us."