UK

Trio guilty of suicide bomb plot

Trio found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court
Image caption Guilty: Savant, Khan and Zaman

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.

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.

"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.

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