Ex-BA man guilty of terror plot

A former British Airways computer expert was convicted today of conspiring with a wanted terrorist to blow up a plane.

Rajib Karim, 31, used his position at the airline to plot an attack with Anwar al-Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with al-Qa'ida.



A jury at Woolwich Crown Court in south east London found him guilty of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks.



Karim plotted to blow up an aircraft, shared information of use to al-Awlaki, offered to help financial or disruptive attacks on BA and gained a UK job to exploit terrorist purposes, the jurors ruled.









Karim was "committed to an extreme jihadist and religious cause" and was "determined to seek martyrdom", jurors were told.



The Bangladeshi national, who moved with his wife and son to Newcastle in 2006, had already admitted being involved in the production of a terrorist group's video, fundraising and volunteering for terror abroad.



Karim, a privately-educated IT expert from a middle-class family in Dhaka, was lured into becoming an avid supporter of the extremist organisation Jammat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) by his younger brother, Tehzeeb.



But their plan to live in an Islamic state was put on hold when Karim moved to England in December 2006, fearing his son was dying of bowel cancer.



Karim, described as "mild-mannered, well-educated and respectful", hid his hatred for Western ways from colleagues by joining a gym, playing football and never airing extreme views.



But at the same time he was using his access to the airline's offices in Newcastle and at Heathrow to spread confidential information.



After gaining a post-graduate job at BA in 2007, Karim held "John le Carre"-style secret meetings with fellow Islamic extremists at Heathrow and, in 2009, began communicating with al-Awlaki from his home in Brunton Lane.



He also shared details of his BA contacts and communicated in code with JMB supporters in Bangladesh.



Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, told the jury Karim was "anxious" to carry out an attack and he was determined to seek martyrdom - to die and to sacrifice himself for his cause.



"Through a terrorist's eyes" it was "just about as good a job as could be obtained", Mr Laidlaw added.



Karim became highly skilled in conducting secret communications and contacted his brother using elaborate encryptions on computer spreadsheets.



The sleeper cell terrorist "dedicated himself" to extremism, police said.



He worked hard distributing jihadist texts, audio recordings and videos across the internet for the media arm of the terrorist group.



One project included producing a series of propaganda videos aimed at gathering support, inspiring supporters and furthering the group's other aims.



But as Karim grew frustrated with JMB and the lack of terrorist opportunities, his brother and two others travelled from Bangladesh to Yemen in 2009 where they made contact with al-Awlaki.



The terrorist group had just been linked to the cargo terror bomb plot and there were reports that al-Awlaki had been killed in an air strike.



Karim's brother told al-Awlaki about his work at BA and the terrorist leader handed over a voice recording to prove he was still alive, provoking an exchange of secret messages.



In January 2010, al-Awlaki contacted Karim again with questions about airport security and his role at BA.



After hearing Karim's story, al-Awlaki emailed Karim saying: "Depending on what your role is and the amount of information you can get your hands on, you might be able to provide us with critical and urgent information and you may be able to play a crucial role ... I pray that Allah may grant us a breakthrough through you."



In February last year, the radical, who has never been caught and is believed to be hiding in the mountains of Yemen, wrote to Karim: "So the question is: with the people you have, is it possible to get a package or a person with a package on board a flight heading to the US?"



After this exchange, Karim applied for cabin crew training.



He was arrested in Newcastle on February 25.







Bearded Karim stood emotionless in the dock as the foreman of the jury delivered the four verdicts.



The jury had been deliberating for 16 hours and five minutes to come to three unanimous verdicts and a majority of 11 to one over whether Karim had deliberately chosen to work in the UK for terror purposes.



Mr Justice Calvert-Smith set a sentencing date at the same court of March 18.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor