updated 3/25/2004 5:05:19 AM ET 2004-03-25T10:05:19

Twenty-six people, including three Britons, were convicted Thursday of trying to revive an outlawed Islamic group and sentenced to one to five years in prison.

Following the sentencing, all of them burst into shouts of, "God is Great, thanks be to God!"

The three Britons -- Ian Malcolm Nisbett, Maajid Nawaz and Reza Pankhurst -- were each sentenced to five years.

One of the 26 was convicted in absentia.

The defendants, first arrested in April 2002, were accused of attempting to revive Hizb-ut-Tahrir -- Islamic Liberation Party -- which was banned by the government after an alleged failed coup in 1974.

"We're not sad," said Nisbett, 29, who now goes by Yehiya Nisbett. "We've always known that they're oppressors. Now they are confirming that. Thank God for everything. We hope God is going to award us in the afterlife. We tried to change oppression in Egypt.

Now, they are admitting that they are oppressors."

Nisbett's British wife, Humayra, who does not understand Arabic, started crying quietly when he indicated his sentence by holding up his hand with all five fingers extended. Later, she held his hand through the bars of the prisoners' cage in the courtroom.

Pankhurst's mother, Zara, said it was a "goofy trial with a goofy judge," but did not seem disheartened by the verdict.

"Thank God, they are not going to beat us, we are strong," she told The Associated Press.

Lawyers for the defendants had said the group was only studying the ideologies of the Islamic Liberation Party and not recruiting others to follow its thinking.

The Islamic Liberation Party was formed in Jordan in 1953 by Taqi Eddin al-Nabahani, a Palestinian who died in unclear circumstances in the Palestinian territories in 1978. The group has long been underground and its current leader is Palestinian Abdul-Kaddim Zalloum, whose whereabouts are unknown.

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