Three convicted of terror attack plot

Three men were found guilty today of conspiring to murder hundreds of people in a terrorist attack.

Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman were convicted by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court.

The three men were among eight tried in connection with an al-Qa'ida-inspired plot to detonate homemade liquid bombs on transatlantic jets.

They were cleared by a jury of their role in targeting aeroplanes but put on trial again to face charges of conspiracy to murder.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said the jury found all three men guilty today.

Savant, of Denver Road, Stoke Newington, Khan, of Farnan Avenue, Walthamstow, and Zaman, of Queen's Road, Walthamstow, will be sentenced tomorrow.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, of Walthamstow, Assad Sarwar, of High Wycombe, and Tanvir Hussain, of Leyton, were found guilty of the airline bomb plot last year.

The al-Qa'ida-inspired plot led by Ali involved smuggling liquid bombs in drinks bottles on to planes bound for North America.

The hydrogen peroxide devices would have been assembled and detonated in mid-air by a team of suicide bombers.

Ali singled out seven flights to San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Washington, New York and Chicago that departed within two and a half hours of each other.

If successful, the explosions could have exceeded the carnage of the September 11 attacks.

Counter-terrorist police and the security services spent more than £35 million foiling the plot and bringing Ali and the others to justice.

The arrest of the gang in August 2006 sparked tight restrictions on carrying liquids on to aircraft which initially caused travel chaos.

The jury rejected the defence of Ali, Sarwar, and Hussain that the plot was an elaborate publicity stunt.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS counterterrorism division, said the convictions were the culmination of years of work by police, the security services and prosecutors.

She said: "Savant, Khan and Zaman were actively working alongside other men on a plot to cause death and injury on a massive scale.

"They were cleared in the previous trial of being aware of the ultimate targets of the plot, but we say that they were committed to the principle and practice of violent jihad to the point of targeting innocent people in an attempt to further their cause.

"The charges against these men were so serious that, following two previous trials where juries could not reach verdicts, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that the evidence must be properly tested before a jury for a third time.

"The verdicts demonstrate that the Crown Prosecution Service was right to pursue a third trial."

Mrs Hemming added: "These men were involved in a calculated and sophisticated plot to create a terrorist event of major proportions, working alongside others who were determined to bring down aircraft using homemade explosives, causing the maximum possible loss of life.

"Along with others in the conspiracy, they recorded chilling so-called martyrdom videos that feature threats to the West of waves of terrorist attacks and suggested justification for terrorism.

"There can of course be no legitimate reason for planning and carrying out such acts, whether they knew of the intended targets or not."

The verdicts bring to a conclusion a marathon series of prosecutions that began with a five-month trial in April 2008. Ali, Hussain and Sarwar were convicted of conspiracy to murder people unknown, but not of plotting to blow up aeroplanes. Mohammed Gulzar was acquitted.

They were put on trial again in March 2009 and convicted of the plot to destroy transatlantic aircraft. The jury acquitted Savant, Khan and Zaman of their role in the aeroplane plot, but was hung on charges of conspiracy to murder. A third retrial was then called.

Evidence included 26,000 exhibits, 9,710 statements, 142 interviews with defendants and 800 seized electronic devices.

Police examined 14,000GB of data, including 15,000 CDs and DVDs and 500 floppy disks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "These three men claimed they recorded their martyrdom videos as part of a documentary; however, when presented with all the evidence, the jury was satisfied that they were deadly serious in their intent and were party to the conspiracy to murder.

"The martyrdom videos, the instructions left for media to use them, the fresh passport applications, the loan applications and the forensic and surveillance links to Ali, Sarwar and the bomb factory all add up to a clear picture of intent.

"It has taken a long time to bring these men to justice, and the Met Specialist Operations, the Crown Prosecution Service and British Security Service, showed huge commitment, dedication, determination and professionalism throughout the investigation and ensuing trials.

"Sadly this case also highlights that there are people out there who are intent on causing us harm."