The new verdicts, following the convictions of three other men in a trial last year, brought at least preliminary closure, pending possible appeals by some of those convicted, to a case with major international implications.
Among these was the role played by Qaeda militants based in Pakistan, who were said by prosecutors to have acted as the plot’s masterminds, as well as the militants’ ability to find terrorist recruits among Britain’s 1.5 million Muslims, including more than a million people of Pakistani ancestry. The three men convicted on Thursday, as well as others convicted in the case, were born in Britain into families of Pakistani origin. In all, 10 men faced charges in the case over three trials — one that ended in 2008, another that was concluded last year and the third that ended Thursday — and all but two were convicted.
Scotland Yard, describing its effort as the most elaborate terrorism investigation it has ever mounted, said the costs of the police operation alone amounted to nearly $40 million. The case involved the deployment of 29 separate surveillance teams during the months the plotters were under observation and was said to have been the most costly investigation in the force’s history.
The wider implications of the plot included its worldwide impact on airline security. The bombs the plotters prepared for the attacks, consisting of liquid explosive inserted by syringes into plastic soft-drink bottles, led to tight new restrictions on the liquids and creams passengers can take onto flights. The restrictions remain in force worldwide, causing major backups for passengers already confronted with the time-consuming airport security measures introduced after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks.
The men convicted on Thursday — Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman — were found guilty of conspiracy to murder. It was a secondary charge to the main count of plotting to bomb the airliners, a charge on which the jury failed to reach a verdict in the first trial. The defendants then were acquitted in a second trial. Their defence lawyers had successfully argued that the prosecution failed to prove that they knew that the targets of the bombings were to be aircraft.
Three other men, including the plot’s alleged overseer in Britain, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, were convicted of the airliner bombing charge at the second trial last year and sentenced to life in prison.