An extremist Muslim plot to kill innocent commuters in a series of murderous suicide bombings only failed at the last moment because of problems with the explosive mixture, hot weather or mere "good fortune", a court has heard.
A six-strong terrorist cell, several of whom had attended sermons by the radical Islamic preacher Abu Hamza, allegedly planned to carry out synchronised bombings on the London transport network exactly two weeks after the deadly July 7 terror attacks.
However, the lives of many passengers on July 21, 2005, were spared when their rucksack bombs of chemicals, chapatti flour and shrapnel failed to explode, Woolwich Crown Court was told.
At the opening of their trial, it was disclosed that five of the six men had been under surveillance by police during a camping trip to the Lake District almost 15 months before their alleged attempt to bomb three Tube trains and a bus. Their photographs were taken by police as they lined up with others on the trip, on a bank holiday weekend in early May 2004, apparently to take part in Islamic prayer.
Less than a year later, the six men began formulating a plan to detonate rucksack bombs on London's public transport system, the court was told. By late April 2005, they had started buying the first of the necessary components for their home-made explosive devices, it was alleged.
one-bedroom flat in Curtis House, New Southgate, north London, was selected as the "bomb factory". The role of five of the men was ultimately that of "would be suicide bombers", who would strike at London's travelling public, the court was told.
The jury heard that the men were extremists. Three attended Hamza's sermons at Finsbury Park Mosque, one received military training in Sudan, while four went on a camping trip to Scotland in 2004 to "get fit for jihad", it was alleged. Prosecuting counsel Nigel Sweeney QC said the alleged conspiracy had been in existence "long before" the "carnage" of July 7 and was not some "hastily arranged copycat".
He described it as an "extremist Muslim plot, the ultimate objective of which was to carry out a number of murderous suicide bombings on the public transport system in London". One of the five bombers "lost his nerve at the last moment" and dumped his rucksack device in woodland, but the other four tried to detonate their bombs as planned, the jury heard. When they failed to explode, the bombers fled in the midst of the ensuing "panic and confusion" - sparking a massive police manhunt.
The six men all deny charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life.
They are: Muktar Said Ibrahim, 28, from Stoke Newington, north London; Ramzi Mohammed, 25, from North Kensington, west London; Yassin Omar, 26, from New Southgate, north London; Hussain Osman, 28, of no fixed address; Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address; and Adel Yahya, 24, of High Road, Tottenham. The trial continues.