At least 40 years for British al Qa'ida terrorist

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The Independent Online

A British al Qa'ida terrorist who plotted atrocities on both sides of the Atlantic was jailed for at least 40 years today.

Muslim convert Dhiren Barot, 34, was jailed for life at Woolwich Crown Court in London today for conspiracy to murder thousands of innocent people.

Judge Mr Justice Butterfield said Barot would have to serve at least 40 years in jail before being considered for release.

The judge said Barot's plans would have caused carnage on a "colossal and unprecedented scale" if successful.

Mr Justice Butterfield told Barot: "This was no noble cause. Your plans were to bring indiscriminate carnage, bloodshed and butchery first in Washington, New York and Newark, and thereafter the UK on a colossal and unprecedented scale."

He added: "Your intention was not simply to cause damage, panic or fear. Your intention was to murder, but it went further. It was designed to strike at the very heart of democracy and the security of the state.

"And if successful, would have affected thousands personally, millions indirectly and ultimately the whole nation of the US and the UK."

The judge continued: "The proposals make chilling reading.

"They were set out like business plans, as if corporate reports going to head office. So, in a sense, they were, but they were dealing not with a business proposition - they were concerned with murder, with the incalculable loss of blameless life."

Mr Justice Butterfield described Barot, who sat impassively at the back of the court, staring straight ahead, during the lengthy sentencing remarks, as a "determined, dedicated and highly dangerous" individual.

The court had earlier heard how Barot plotted terror atrocities on the eastern seaboard of the United States and in Britain using explosive-packed limousines and a dirty bomb.

The judge told Barot that if he had been passing a determinate sentence it would have been 80 years, but as he had passed a life sentence the tariff he attached was half that, a minimum of 40 years in jail before he can be considered for release.

The head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, Peter Clarke, said: "By his own admission, Barot wanted to commit mass murder on both sides of the Atlantic.

He was the leader of the plot. If he had succeeded, hundreds, if not thousands, could have died.

"His plans to set off a dirty bomb in this country could have caused widespread fear, panic and disruption.

"Barot was a determined and experienced terrorist. He went to terrorist training camps in 1995, long before 9/11 or the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq. He is not someone who has recently been attracted to the terrorist cause.

"He is a full-time terrorist. His training showed through. He used anti-surveillance coded messages in secret meetings, but he could not evade capture.

"He was stopped before he could attack the British and American people. As always our concern for public safety was paramount.

"For well over two years we have been unable to show the British public the reality of the threat they faced from this man. Now they can see for themselves the full horror of his plan."

Following the sentencing, Crown Prosecutor Patrick Stevens said: "The extent and potential impact of Barot's plans were made graphically clear in court.

"Fortunately, as a result of his timely arrest and subsequent conviction, his plans could not be carried out."

He added: "Barot's plea of guilty is a result of the tireless dedication of the Police Counter-Terrorist Command, the Crown Prosecution Service Counter-Terrorism Division, and counsel.

"For more than two years we have worked exhaustively in co-operation with the security and intelligence agencies, and international colleagues, to present a case that ultimately proved unanswerable."