3 found guilty of airline blast plot

3 found guilty of airline blast plot

A Woolwich Crown Court jury convicted Pakistani-origin Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, of conspiring to activate bombs disguised as soft drinks.

Four other men — Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Khan, Waheed Zaman and Donald Stewart-Whyte — were found not guilty of involvement in the airline plot. The men’s arrests in 2006 led to widespread airport restrictions on liquids in hand luggage. The plot’s ringleader Ali, along with Hussain and Sarwar, was previously found guilty of conspiracy to murder involving liquid bombs but that jury could not decide whether the three men’s plans extended to detonating the devices on planes. Now a second jury has decided that such a terror plot did exist, the BBC reported.

An eighth man, Umar Islam, 31, was convicted of conspiracy to murder, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on whether he was involved in the plot to blow up the aircraft. The court was told that MI5 officers uncovered the plotters as they followed cells of extremists in London. The jury heard that, at the time of the men’s arrest in August 2006, Ali had identified seven flights leaving from Heathrow to North American cities.

Political stunt

Sarwar, meanwhile, was described as the plot’s “quartermaster”, securing bomb ingredients from his home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The men told the court that they had been planning a “political stunt”, including small explosions only intended to frighten people at airports.

A string of coded e-mails between the terror cell leaders in Britain and their “al-Qaeda taskmasters” revealed the extent to which the airline plot was being run from Pakistan, the Times online reported.

At the centre of the exchange of messages is a figure referred to as “Paps” or “Papa” — believed to be a pen-name used by Rashid Rauf, a Birmingham man who played a key part in recruiting and facilitating al-Qaeda activity in UK from Pakistan.