An undercover officer told how he posed as a courier firm boss to help catch convicted terrorists dubbed the "Three Musketeers" allegedly plotting an imminent attack on British soil.
Naweed Ali, 29, Khobaib Hussain, 25, and Mohibur Rahman, 32, along with fourth defendant Tahir Aziz, 38, are on trial at the Old Bailey charged with preparing acts of terrorism.
They were arrested after members of security services searched Ali's car on August 26 last year and allegedly uncovered weapons for an attack.
Ali had parked his Seat Leon at Heroes Couriers in Birmingham city centre for his first day working for a man called Vincent, who was really an undercover officer.
Once Ali had driven off in a delivery van, officers from the security services arrived to conduct a "covert technical operation", which revealed a partly constructed pipe bomb and machete.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, Vincent told how he was tasked to act as manager of Heroes Couriers as part of a covert operation.
His initial target was to recruit Hussain as a driver for the company, he told jurors.
His objectives included building a relationship with Hussain, identify extremists associated with him, gather evidence for any prosecution and disrupt any planned offences.
Vincent told how he recorded his conversations and meetings with Hussain and passed on a master disc of them at the earliest opportunity.
He first called Hussain on July 26 last year about a job working on a "zero hours" contract for £100 a day repatriating luggage between airports all over the country.
Hussain went on to work shifts for Vincent and on July 30, Ali contacted him about getting a job there too.
Jurors were shown Ali's CV, which detailed his previous work at Burger King and hobbies including "football, snooker, going to the gym and reading".
In his personal statement, Ali described himself as an "enthusiastic person who enjoys a challenge", who is "hard-working and "thrives on responsibility".
Following his arrest, Ali told police that the weapons in his car were nothing to do with him and he denied his conversations with his co-accused were about planning an attack.
Aziz's Ford Fiesta was searched on the same day and a Samurai sword was found stashed by the driver's seat, the jury has heard.
The court has heard that Ali and Hussain, who are next-door neighbours, had a previous conviction from 2012 for preparing terrorist acts by flying to Pakistan to attend a terrorist training camp.
And restaurant worker Rahman pleaded guilty in January 2012 to possessing copies of the al Qaida magazine Inspire, the court heard.
Ali, Hussain and Rahman used an encrypted Telegram group named the Three Musketeers to communicate, the court has heard.
Ali and Hussain, both of Sparkhill in Birmingham, and Rahman, and Aziz, of Stoke-on-Trent, deny preparing terrorist acts between May 25 and August 27 last year.
The trial was adjourned until Friday when Vincent will continue his evidence.