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THREE British terrorists were jailed for life yesterday for plotting to murder thousands of passengers on transatlantic flights in an atrocity which would have compared to the September 11 attacks.
The airline bomb plot was “the most grave and wicked conspiracy ever proven within this jurisdiction”, the judge Mr Justice Henriques said.
The members of the al-Qaida-inspired terror cell planned to detonate home-made liquid bombs on flights bound for major North American cities.
They were told theyremain a serious danger to the public and may never be released.
Mr Justice Henriques said ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali must serve a minimum of 40 years in prison and was a “determined extremist with boundless energy and an ambition to lead a terrorist outrage of massive proportions”.
Accomplices Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain werealso given life sentences as they were jailed for a minimum of 36 and 32 years respectively.
Ali, 28, of Walthamstow, east London, was found guilty along with Sarwar and Hussain last week at Woolwich Crown Court of conspiracy to murder on an airliner following the largest-ever counter-terrorism operation in Britain.
“The intention was to perpetrate a terrorist outrage that would stand alongside the events of September 11, 2001 in history,” Mr Justice Henriques said.
He told Ali: “By this conspiracy you sought the attention of the world, and you now have it.”
Ali was “producer, director, cameraman, part-author and actor in six martyrdom tapes” which warned the British public to expect “floods of martyr operations” that would leave body parts scattered in the streets.
“You made it as clear as can be that innocent people were going to die – men, women and children.”
Mr Justice Henriques said it was clear Ali was “intelligent” and that he had “argued the unarguable over many days” with prosecutors and “sought to justify the mass killing” in the gang’s suicide videos.
He said the plot was not an attempt by Ali to change the Government’s foreign policy, but “an act ofrevenge inspired by extremist Islamic thinking” and aimed at the “governments of several allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
The judge said the emails at the centre of the retrial – which were unavailable to prosecutors in the first trial last year – “are a vital source of information as to the control, progress and scope of this conspiracy”.
While others in Pakistan controlled, monitored and funded the plot, Ali, Sarwar, 29, from High Wycombe, Bucks, and Hussain, 28, from Leyton, east London, were “high-level executives within this country”.
He said the airline bomb plot had “reached an advanced stage in its development”.
The men had “sufficient chemicals for 20 home-made detonators of commercial strength”.
The judge told Sarwar he was a “vital and leading member of this conspiracy”, who had trained in Pakistan, embraced Islamic extremism, and acted as the “chemist and quartermaster” for the operation.
The judge told Hussain his role was “substantial, albeit inferior to both Ali and Sarwar” and that his involvement was “entirely attributable to long-term loyalty to Ali”.
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