Briton admits plot to detonate series of 'dirty bombs'

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The Independent Online

A British man has admitted he plotted to use a radioactive "dirty" bomb and other explosive devices to carry out terrorist attacks in Britain and the United States.

Dhiren Barot, 34, a Muslim convert from Willesden, north London, has become the first person in the United Kingdom to be convicted of conspiracy to murder in relation to a terrorist offence.

In one plan, called the "Dirty Bomb Project", Barot plotted with others to blow up radioactive material in a series of synchronised explosions, Woolwich Crown Court in London heard yesterday.

Another plan - known as the "Gas Limos Project" - involved filling three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives and detonating them in underground car parks in the UK.

The Limos Project was planned over a four-year period by Barot to form the "main cornerstone" of a series of attacks in the UK, the court was told.

While no specific targets were identified in Britain he had planned to bomb the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings in Washington, the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup buildings in New York and the Prudential skyscraper in Newark.

The attacks in the US were "designed to kill as many innocent people as possible", and the UK radioactive "dirty bomb" plot was intended to cause "injury, fear, terror and chaos", the court heard. Barot believed the "dirty bomb" - a mixture of explosives and radioactive material - could affect 500 people.

But according to expert evidence, if the radiation project had been carried out, it would have been unlikely to have killed anyone, but it would have caused panic, fear and disruption. There was also no evidence to suggest Barot had obtained funding or bomb making equipment to carry out his terror plans, the court was told.

Plans for the attacks were found by the police on a computer after arrests in August 2004.

Barot pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge that between 1 January 2000 and 4 August 2004 he conspired together with other persons unknown to murder other persons.

On being asked "Do you plead guilty or not guilty?" to the charges, Barot said without emotion: "I plead guilty." He is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Seven other men are due to stand trial in connection with the plot in April next year. They deny conspiracy to murder and commit public nuisance with radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives.

Barot, who converted to Islam after he left Kingsbury High School, north London, comes from an Indian family who are thought to have moved at the age of one from Kenya to Britain in the early 1970s. Considered an average pupil at school at one time he was interested in a career in hotel management. He is thought to have been raised a Hindu by his parents, from whom in later years he became estranged.

Edmund Lawson QC, for the Crown, gave details of his terror plans to the court yesterday. Mr Lawson said the Gas Limos Project was supposed to form the "main cornerstone" of a series of attacks in the UK.

He said: "The Gas Limos Project was supplemented by three other projects which were presented for consideration. The first being, as it was described, the Rough Presentation for radiation or Dirty Bomb Project."

He added that this plot was designed to achieve "a number of further and collateral objectives such as to cause injury, fear, terror and chaos".

Mr Lawson said the three additional projects, including the Dirty Bomb Project, were designed to be executed in a "synchronised, concurrent and back-to-back" way with the main Gas Limos Project.

The barrister continued: "The defendant's expressed preference in respect of the radiation project was that 'it deserved to be an independent project in its own right'."

But according to expert evidence, if the radiation project had been carried out, it would have been "unlikely by itself to cause death, as opposed to causing considerable fear, panic and social disruption".

Mr Lawson added: "The radiation project was designed, among other things, to affect some 500 people."

He said the Crown had no evidence to contradict a defence argument that the intention of the "dirty bomb" project was not to kill.

He said neither did it have any evidence to contradict the contention that no funding had been received for the projects, nor any vehicles or bomb-making materials acquired "in furtherance of executing the conspiracy".

On the plans to attack the US, the barrister said that they were "for attacks on the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings in Washington, the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup buildings in New York and the Prudential buildings in Newark".

"These being plans... to carry out explosions at those premises with no warning, they were basically designed to kill as many innocent people as possible."

Barot had also faced 12 other charges, but the judge ordered them to lie on file following his guilty plea to conspiracy to murder.

THE PLANS

"Dirty Bomb Project"

A plot to set off a so-called "dirty bomb" - a mixture of conventional explosives and radioactive material - that was intended to cause injury, terror and chaos. Although experts believed the planned device, which is supposed to scatter radioactive material over a wide area, was unlikely to be fatal, it would cause mass panic.

The attack on the US

The plan was to target skyscrapers and financial institutions in New York and Washington. These including the World Bank and IMF headquarters in Washington and the New York Stock Exchange and the Citigroup building in Manhattan. The Prudential skyscraper in Newark, New Jersey, was also on the list.

"Gas Limos Project"

This was a plan to fill three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives and detonate them in underground car parks in the UK. This plot was considered to be the "main cornerstone" of a series of attacks in the Britain, although there was no evidence of specific targets, or that any bomb making equipment had been purchased.