Terror plot trio sentenced to life in prison

Three men were today sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of plotting to kill hundreds of people in a terrorist attack.

Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman, who were recruited by the ring leader of an al-Qaida-inspired plot to detonate home-made liquid bombs on transatlantic jets, were told they would serve minimum terms of 20 years.

Mr Justice Holroyde told Woolwich Crown Court that the men intended to kill "an uncertain but potentially large number of innocent men, women and children".

Mastermind Abdulla Ahmed Ali had developed a home-made hydrogen peroxide bomb which could be disguised as a soft drink to be carried through security and assembled afterwards.

Along with another man, he was found guilty of his role in the airline plot last year.

Ali recruited friends and associates to act as suicide bombers as they recorded martyrdom videos at a flat in Walthamstow, east London, and singled out seven transatlantic flights which departed within two and a half hours of each other as targets.

Mr Justice Holroyde said the men sentenced today were "foot soldiers" and did not know their intended targets and took no part in its planning or in assembling the explosives.

But he said: "Each of you agreed to join with others in this conspiracy with each of you intending that you would kill members of the general public and yourselves by acting as a suicide bomber."

He added: "In furtherance of that conspiracy, each of you recorded a suicide video in which you described yourself as being blessed by the opportunity to take part in that mission."

The trio were cleared by a jury of their role in targeting aircraft but found guilty at a retrial of plotting mass murder.

The verdicts bring to an end a sprawling series of trials following an August 2006 operation to smash the largest terrorist plot ever discovered in Britain.

The police and MI5 inquiry would eventually cost more than £30m and led to widescale and unpopular restrictions on carrying fluid on aircraft.

If successful, the explosions could have exceeded the carnage of the September 11 attacks.

Mr Justice Holroyde said the men's faith had been corrupted, saying: "I accept that each of you were recruited by Ali and by all I have heard and read in this case, I accept he was a very powerful personality.

Savant (aged 29) of Stoke Newington, Khan (aged 29) of Walthamstow, and Zaman (aged 26) also of Walthamstow, showed no emotion as they were sent down.

All three had denied a charge of conspiracy to murder.

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