Terror cell plotted to bomb Ministry of Sound, court is told

London's biggest nightclub, the Ministry of Sound, was discussed as a possible bombing target by British terrorists, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

One of the members of an alleged terror cell with al-Qa'ida links said they would not be blamed for killing innocent people because the clubbers were "slags dancing around", the jury was told.

In secret tape recordings made by MI5, the Security Service, another alleged member of the group talks about blowing up a gas plant. Omar Khyam, 24, of Crawley, West Sussex, is heard apparently discussing targeting utility companies with the help of recruits with inside knowledge. But another of the alleged plotters, Jawad Akbar, 22, also of Crawley, says the central London club is a softer target for a terror attack.

The recording was made at Mr Akbar's home in Uxbridge, west London, on 22 February 2004, the jury was told. In tapes played to the court, Mr Akbar says: "What about easy stuff where you don't need no experience and nothing and you could get a job, yeah, like for example the biggest nightclub in central London where no one can even turn round and say, 'Oh they were innocent' those slags dancing around?

"If you went for the social structure where every Tom, Dick and Harry goes on a Saturday night, yeah, that would be crazy."

Mr Khyam replies: "If you get a job in a bar, yeah, or a club, say the Ministry of Sound, what are you planning to do there then?", the court heard.

Mr Akbar: "Blow the whole thing up." Mr Khyam: "That's what I'm saying."

Mr Akbar: "I think the club thing you could do, but the gas would be much harder. There's people who even get in with their searching stuff but it's only bouncers that search you."

Mr Khyam: "The explosion in the clubs, yeah, that's fine bro, that's not a problem. The training for that is available. To get them into the Ministry of Sound really isn't difficult."

Mr Akbar asks Mr Khyam if he thinks they are being bugged by the police and MI5, to which he replies he does not think so.

The Ministry of Sound was founded 15 years ago by Jamie Palumbo, son of the developer Lord Palumbo, and was Britain's first super-club. It can hold up to 1,800 people. Gary Smart, the Ministry of Sound's general manager, said in a statement read to court that 1.5 million people had visited it since it opened. He said: "If the Ministry of Sound was to be subjected to terrorist attack, then it's clear the consequences could be devastating with such a large number of people in such a confined space. The impact could result in loss of life, injury or structural damage."

Earlier, the jury heard that the alleged terrorist group had considered attacking the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

Mr Khyam, 24, his brother Shujah Mahmood, 19, Waheed Mahmood, 34, and Akbar, 22, all from Crawley, West Sussex, Salahuddin Amin, 31, from Luton, Bedfordshire, Anthony Garcia, 23, of Ilford, east London, and Nabeel Hussain, 21, of Horley, Surrey, deny conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life between January 2003 and March 2004. Mr Khyam, Mr Garcia and Mr Hussain also deny possessing 600kg (1,300lb) of ammonium nitrate fertiliser for terrorism.

The men were arrested in March 2004 after fertiliser was found in a depot in west London. The trial continues.