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Eight Muslims in Liquid Plane Bomb Plot on Trial in UK

February 17, 2009

Men tried over 'plane bomb plot'

Top (l-r) Abdullah Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar, Tanvir Hussain, Ibrahim Savant (bottom l-r), Arafat Waheed Khan, Waheed Zaman, Umar Islam, Donald Douglas Stewart-Whyte (bottom l-r) The prosecution said the men were "engaged in a most deadly plot"

Eight men plotted to use "home-made bombs" disguised as soft drinks to blow up transatlantic planes mid-flight, Woolwich Crown Court has heard.

The jury was told that had the alleged plot come off, there would have been deaths on an "unprecedented scale".

The bombs would be made of household items smuggled on board and detonated in mid-flight.

All eight men deny the alleged plot, which counter-terrorist police claim to have foiled in August 2006.

Prosecutor Peter Wright said the ringleaders of the alleged conspiracy were two men, Abdulla Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar, from Walthamstow, east London, and High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

'Indifferent to carnage'

Mr Wright told the jury: "The means by which they intended to inflict heavy casualties on ordinary civilians was by the carrying out of a series of co-ordinated and deadly explosions.

What these men intended to bring about together and with others was a violent and deadly statement of intent that would have a truly global impact
Prosecutor Peter Wright

"These men were indifferent to the carnage that was likely to ensue if their plans were successful... They intended, with others, to cause a series of co-ordinated explosions aboard a number of transatlantic passenger aircraft."

The explosions were to be caused by the detonation in-flight of home-made bombs made from everyday household items such as drinks bottles and batteries which could be smuggled on board, Mr Wright said.

"Inevitably such an event would have fatal consequences for the various passengers and crew who happened, quite by chance, to be flying to North America on the day selected by them to commit this atrocity.

'Foot soldiers'

"Consequently, it is the Crown's case that these men and others were actively engaged in a most deadly plot designed to bring about what would have been, had they been successful, a civilian death toll from an act of terrorism on an almost unprecedented scale."

Ali and Sarwar were arrested by counter-terrorism police on 9 August, 2006, when it was believed they were "almost ready" to launch the terror strike, Mr Wright said.

The pair were the plot's ringleaders, while the others were the "foot-soldiers" prepared to carry out the bombings, he added.

The prosecution alleges the plot was being directed from Pakistan.

"This was not something that had been devised merely by Ali and Sarwar once they had realised they shared a common interest, this was part of a much wider scheme of things," Mr Wright said.

"Acts of terrorism on an international scale, directed from abroad using home-grown terrorists, young, radicalised Muslims prepared to lose their lives in a global act of jihad."

Flight research

A computer memory stick containing details of flights from Heathrow Airport to North American destinations was found in Ali's pocket when he was arrested, the court heard.

It held details of flights operated by three carriers, American Airlines, United Airlines and Air Canada, from August to October 2006.

Seven services, all leaving from Terminal 3 of the London airport and all due to be mid-flight at the same time, were highlighted.

Those in the dock are: Abdulla Ahmed Ali, also known as Ahmed Ali Khan, 28, of Prospect Hill, Walthamstow; Assad Sarwar, 28, of Walton Drive, High Wycombe;

Tanvir Hussain, 27, of Nottingham Road, Leyton, east London; Ibrahim Savant, 28, of Denver Road, Stoke Newington, north London;

Arafat Waheed Khan, 27, of Farnan Avenue, Walthamstow; Waheed Zaman, 24, of Queen's Road, Walthamstow;

Umar Islam, also known as Brian Young, 30, of Bushey Road, Plaistow, east London; and Donald Stewart-Whyte, 22, of Hepplewhite Close, High Wycombe.

Mr Savant, Mr Khan, Mr Zaman, Mr Islam and Mr Stewart-Whyte face one additional charge of conspiracy to murder, which again they deny.

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