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Three UK Muslims Found Guilty of Airline Suicide Bomb Plot

July 8, 2010

Trio guilty of suicide bomb plot

Three men have been found guilty of plotting to murder by becoming suicide bombers.

Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Khan and Waheed Zaman, all from east London, were convicted of conspiracy to murder by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court.

The men had been recruited in 2006 by the ringleader of what became known as the airline bomb plot.

Last year a jury cleared the trio, who will be sentenced on Monday, of knowing the target had been airlines.

They face life imprisonment.

'Martyrdom videos'

The verdicts come nearly four years after the police and MI5 smashed the largest ever terrorist plot in the UK - an investigation that cost more than 25m and led to widescale restrictions at airports.

Continue reading the main story

These men were involved in a calculated and sophisticated plot to create a terrorist event of major proportions

Sue Hemming, CPS The would-be bombers of Walthamstow

The cell's ringleaders, based in east London, had developed a homemade liquid bomb which could be disguised as a soft drink.

The head of the plot, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, had planned to target seven transatlantic airliners with a co-ordinated strike by suicide bombers he was trying to recruit from among his friends.

Ali and two other plotters were found guilty of planning of this plot after a 2009 retrial.

However, the jury at that trial cleared Savant, of Stoke Newington, Khan, of Walthamstow, and Zaman, also of Walthamstow, of being part of an airliners plot, but could not decide whether the trio were still prepared to be suicide bombers.

Prosecutors said that "martyrdom videos" recorded by the trio proved they were willing to sacrifice their lives, even if at the time of their arrest there was insufficient evidence to prove they had known what the targets would be.

In a rare move, the courts sanctioned a third trial of the trio, saying it was in the public interest to get final verdicts.

'Death and injury'

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service's head of counter-terrorism, Sue Hemming, said: "Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman were actively working alongside other men on a plot to cause death and injury on a massive scale.


Continue reading the main story One of the martyrdom videos Verdicts explained in full

"They were cleared in the previous trial of being aware of the ultimate targets of the plot, but we say that they were committed to the principle and practice of violent jihad to the point of targeting innocent people in an attempt to further their cause.

"The charges against these men were so serious that, following two previous trials where juries could not reach verdicts, the director of public prosecutions decided that the evidence must be properly tested before a jury for a third time.

"The verdicts demonstrate that the Crown Prosecution Service was right to pursue a third trial."

Earlier trials

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, of Walthamstow, Assad Sarwar, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Tanvir Hussain, of Leyton, east London, were found guilty of the airline bomb plot last year.

Ali had been in contact with al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and sent coded e-mails to them, keeping them up to date with his attempts to recruit bombers.

The flights he had singled out were to San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Washington, New York and Chicago.

Each departed within two-and-a-half hours of each other. The flight details were held on a memory stick which Ali was carrying when he was arrested.

Two other men, Umar Islam and Adam Khattib, were convicted on the same conspiracy to murder charge as Savant, Khan and Zaman, but not of the airliner element.

Ali's plot sparked a fundamental shift in airliner security across the Western world, with governments restricting liquids from flights.

The restrictions prompted chaos at airports but have since become part of the standard security arrangements for flights.


Trans-Atlantic airlines plot: the frontline troops

By Duncan Gardham Security Correspondent
Published:8 Jul 2010


Savant had failed at education, failed at finding a job and failed at finding a wife, until he turned to hard line Islam.

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He claimed he was asked to participate in the "protest" videos because he was white - although he said his face would be pixilated.

Born Oliver, his father was an architect from India and his mother was a Church of England book keeper.

He dropped out of a degree in product design, working briefly at Ralph Lauren and Burberry's in Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, before going on to work for his mother.

Despite converting to Islam when he was 16, Savant was given a police caution for possessing a small amount of cannabis in 1999.

During the searches of a number of premises by police they found a copy of a book called the "Improvised Explosives Manual" with Savant's fingerprints on a number of pages and 3,660 stashed in envelopes and paper bags.

At the home of Savant's pregnant wife, Ateka Sidyot, in Stoke Newington, North London, they found a card addressed to her that read: "To my love, sorry for everything...Life here is temporary, that's why it's so fragile. I wish for you to be a part of my permanent life in the hereafter inshallah [god willing]...Love ya loads!! IBO xxx."

In his suicide video, Savant said: "As for the lovers of life and haters of death, you will class my case as a case of suicide. I say argue your case with the most high...all Muslims take heed, remove yourself from the grasp of the kuffar [non-believers] before you are counted as one of them. Do not be content with your council houses and businesses and western lifestyle."


Khan was a street-wise, hard smoking and drinking young man, and a series of mobile phone clips taken by his friends showed him in various states of intoxication.

On one occasion he could be heard saying: "Get drunk, smoke weed every day,"

Born in Pakistan, he moved to Britain when he was one. His father worked as a book keeper but died from a heart attack during a visit to Pakistan in 1998.

After his father's death, Khan went off the rails and was arrested while traveling in a stolen car and for possession of heroin.

He studied business at Middlesex University and held various part time jobs at shops in London's West End including BHS, Next, House of Fraser, Ralph Lauren and Harvey Nichols.

After leaving university he worked in various branches of the Link mobile phone shop including Covent Garden, Kensington High Street, Islington, and Knightsbridge.

He said after resigning he was thinking of becoming an estate agent.

Two weeks before his arrest, Khan visited John Bell and Croyden, a pharmacy in Wigmore Street in London's West End where he bought chemistry equipment to help with the bomb-making.

It took him two attempts to get his suicide video right. In the clips he said: "We will rain upon you such a terror and destruction that you will never feel peace and security. There will be floods of martyrdom operations and bombs falling through your lands. There will be daily torment in this world and a greater torment awaiting in the hereafter."

He went on to state: "I would like to thank Allah for giving me this opportunity to bless me with this shahada [martyrdom]. I ask Allah to forgive me for all my sins, to accept me as a martyr. I ask Allah to help the mujahideen [holy fighters] everywhere in every way."


Although younger than most of the rest of the gang, Zaman was respected in Walthamstow, East London for his Islamic learning and was head of his student Islamic society.

He had lived in the same house opposite Queen's Road Mosque in Walthamstow for his whole life.

After gaining a string of D grades in his GCSEs his family sent him to the private Bales College in Kensal Rise, North West London from where he went on to London Metropolitan University to do a degree course in bio-medical science.

At the same time he was working on Saturdays at Hamleys toy shop in London's Regent Street.

A series of friends said they remembered Zaman as a keen Liverpool supporter and went to a weekly martial arts class with co-accused Ibrahim Savant and Umar Islam in the year before his arrest.

Zaman drafted an article for a student magazine in which he wrote: "Islam truly is a religion of peace and tolerance" but in his suicide video he said: "I have been educated to a high standard and had it not been Allah had blessed me with this mission, I could have lived a life of ease but instead chose to fight for the sake of Allah's Deen [religion] ... all of you so-called moderate Muslims, there's only one way in which to solve this crisis, the problems will not be solved by means of campaigning, big conferences, peaceful negotiations with the disbelievers.

He went on: "I'm warning these two nations and any other country who seeks a bad end, death and destruction will pass upon you like a tornado and you will not feel it. You will not feel any security or peace in your lands until you [stop] interfering in the affairs of the Muslim completely.

"I'm warning you today so tomorrow you have no cause for complaints. Remember, as you kill us, you will be killed and as you bomb us, you will be bombed."

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