LONDON (AP) — Three men were convicted Monday of conspiracy to murder in a terrorist bombing campaign, but the jury could not reach a verdict on allegations they plotted to use liquid explosives to down trans-Atlantic airliners.
Os condenados. Foto tirada do NYT. (London Metropolitan Police, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
The jury failed to reach any verdict at all for four defendants, and one man was acquitted in a case that caused travel chaos in 2006 at the height of the summer vacation season. Prosecutors said they were considering a retrial.
Prosecutors said a group of British Muslims led by Abdulla Ahmed Ali planned to use explosive hydrogen peroxide disguised as a soft drink and considered national infrastructure targets including gas terminals, oil refineries and Heathrow Airport.
Prosecutors said during the trial that the men, all Britons with ties to Pakistan, planned to attack United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada flights.
But the jury could not reach a verdict on prosecutors’ claims that Ali intended to target passenger jets flying from London to major North American cities with suicide attacks.
A jury in London found that Abdulla Ahmed Ali and coconspirators Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain were guilty of conspiracy to murder by the use of hydrogen peroxide to make a bomb.
The jury failed to reach verdicts on charges against four other defendants — Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan, Waheed Zaman and Umar Islam. An eighth man, Mohammed Gulzar, was acquitted.
The men’s plans were stopped by British and U.S. intelligence officers in an investigation that led to a bomb factory in eastern London, British woodlands where chemicals had been dumped and to Japan, Mauritius, South Africa and Pakistan‘s lawless tribal areas where conversations were intercepted.
Police swooped down and arrested two dozen suspects in dawn raids across Britain on Aug. 10, 2006.
Airports in the United States and Europe ground to a halt with hundreds of flights canceled over security concerns. Planes were stuck on runways for hours. Tempers flared as passengers lined up to surrender carry-on items under new security precautions that restricted the quantity of liquids in their luggage.
A lawyer for Ali, the alleged ringleader of the group, insisted last month he was guilty only of planning a childish stunt to make a political point.
Ali acknowledged planning to release anti-Western videos and detonate explosives at a high-profile location as part of a campaign to change the British government’s policy toward the Muslim world.
“It was childish, it was stupid, but it is not murder,” the lawyer, Nadine Radford, said during a July hearing.
Ali, Sarwar and Hussain had already pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause explosions. All eight denied conspiracy to murder.
Ali told the court they planned to set off a small bomb at a site such as the Houses of Parliament or Heathrow Airport to advertise a propaganda documentary protesting the West’s actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He denied intending to kill anyone (…)