'LSE, Big Ben among potential targets of UK X'mas terror plot'

The nine men, mostly of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, aged between 19 and 28, had carried out reconnaissance missions before deciding on their possible targets.

Prosecutor Piers Arnold told the court yesterday that Trafalgar Square was visited and then Westminster, where a mobile phone was allegedly held up and pointed at Big Ben.
According to The Daily Telegraph, police were said to have found a list of six sites, including the full postal address of the Stock Exchange, Boris Johnson's London mayoral office and the US embassy.

Defendants were seen studying the tower of Big Ben, before inspecting Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Church of Scientology.

The Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, two rabbis and the US Embassy were also said to have been listed for possible attack, according to The Daily Mail.

According to the British tabloid, besides  28-year-old Gurukanth Desai, others accused in the plot are Mohammed Moksudur Rahman Chowdhury, 20, Shah Mohammed Lutfar Rahman, 28, Omar Sharif Latif, 26, Abdul Malik Miah, 24. Bearded Miah and clean-shaven Desai are brothers, the court heard.

The four suspects from the Midlands were Nazam Hussain, 25, Usman Khan, 19, Mohibur Rahman, 26, and Abul Bosher Mohammed Shahjahan, 26.
Miah and Desai both applied to be freed on bail - the only two suspects to do so - but chief magistrate Howard Riddle remanded all nine men in custody to the Old Bailey on January 14.

According to Arnold, surveillance teams followed their quarries to the South Bank and the London Eye giant ferris wheel, which was being 'observed intently'.
They moved on to look at the Church of Scientology building on Queen Victoria Street near Blackfriars, before visiting a branch of McDonald's.

After the arrests on December 20, searches at one of the addresses uncovered a handwritten note containing the contact details of six individuals, Arnold said.

It had the full addresses of the Dean of St Paul's and the Chapter House, two rabbis and their synagogues, the US Embassy, London Stock Exchange and the work address of Johnson.

All nine terror suspects face the two charges. The first is conspiring to cause an explosion or explosions 'of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the UK' between October 1 and December 20.

The second charge is 'engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism' between the same dates.

This includes downloading information from the internet, researching materials and methods, obtaining materials and methods.

The charge said the men had discussed and carried out reconnaissance on potential targets, and agreed their targets.

Finally, it said they had experimented with explosives by 'igniting and testing incendiary material'.

The court heard that Big Ben was allegedly visited, while the Palace of Westminister was among the other key landmarks said to have  received their attention.

Targets for bombings had been agreed by the cell's members before police swooped, Westminster Magistrates' Court was told.

The suspects had also conducted live tests on explosives as part of their 'unlawful and malicious conspiracy'.

Anti-terror police arrested the men during a series of dawn raids in London, Cardiff and Stoke-on-Trent five days before Christmas.

The suspects sat in the glass-panelled dock as the court was given details of atrocities they were accused of planning for the festive season.

According to the report, a covert surveillance operation was carried out by police and Mi5, Britain's intelligence agency, which involved following suspects and recording conversations, the court heard.

The men were charged on Sunday night and Monday morning after the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the evidence gathered by police.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS counter Terrorism Division, said: "I have reviewed the evidence provided to me by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and it is in the public interest that these men should be charged with these offences.'

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