A British Muslim accused of leading a transatlantic airline bomb plot admitted today that he planned to explode a device at a UK airport terminal.
Abdulla Ahmed Ali (aged 27) said earlier plans to attack the Houses of Parliament were dropped in favour of an airport because “security was not so tight”.
He told Woolwich Crown Court he was interested in Heathrow Terminal Three because it was used by several American airline carriers.
Ali said the plan allowed them to “direct action more towards America” and would gain “a lot of attention”.
He said the explosion was a “publicity stunt” to attract attention to an online documentary attacking British and US foreign policy.
He denied that the gang planned to attack aircraft with the home-made bombs constructed using instructions from the internet.
He said: “That was never our intention. When we thought about the airport it was the terminal and more specific American offices. We were trying to create a disturbance not kill anyone.
“We did not even think about boarding a plane, our aim was to set off a device at a terminal, cause a disturbance then release our video.”
Ali is accused alongside seven other men of a terrorist conspiracy to murder thousands in attacks on transatlantic airliners.
Prosecutors said the men planned to smuggle improvised liquid bombs disguised as soft drinks aboard and detonate them.
All eight men deny two joint charges of conspiring to murder and to endanger aircraft.
Speaking in his defence for the second day, Ali said he approached trusted friends to help make the controversial propaganda film.
Among those brought into the video plan were fellow charity volunteer Assad Sarwar and close friend Tanvir Hussain.
Ali said Hussain agreed “to help make a production to try and change public opinion” and motivate others.
He said: “He was aware we wanted to make a device to use to get mass media attention to give credibility to the threats which would be made.”
Ali said he also asked Waheed Zaman to join them after prayers in a Walthamstow mosque.
He told the court he directed the films which were scripted and based on al-Qaida militant videos.
Jurors have been shown apparent martyrdom videos in which six of the men, including Ali himself, threaten attacks on the West.
The videos were recorded on a camcorder at a flat in Forest Road, Walthamstow, east London in the summer of 2006, the court has heard.
Prosecutors said the flat was used as a base for the terrorist mission, with conspirators meeting there to make the soft drink bottle bombs.
Speaking about the video, Ali said: “I wanted to try and make it as realistic as I could and make it as sensational as possible to get maximum publicity and make the threats as credible as possible.
“The whole idea was to be aggressive, sensationalist, copying the rhetoric and styles seen in other videos.”
He added: “This was just an experiment to get an idea of how we could do it.”
Ali said that by late July 2006 he suspected he was being watched by police surveillance teams and voiced his concerns to Sarwar.
He said: “I thought wind it down, finish what we were doing, put the brakes on.
“I told him get whatever you need now hide it somewhere, so in the future we could do something.”
Ali, of Prospect Hill, Walthamstow, east London, is on trial with seven other men.
They are: Sarwar (aged 28) of Walton Drive, High Wycombe, Bucks; Hussain (aged 27) of Nottingham Road, Leyton, east London; Mohammed Gulzar (aged 26) of Priory Road, Barking, east London; Ibrahim Savant (aged 27) of Denver Road, Stoke Newington, north London; Arafat Waheed Khan (aged 27) of Farnan Avenue, Walthamstow; Zaman (aged 24) of Queen’s Road, Walthamstow; and Umar Islam, aka, Brian Young (aged 30) of Bushey Road, Plaistow, east London.