Muslims accused of aircraft bomb plot to face retrial

Seven young British Muslims are to be retried for plotting to blow up transatlantic passenger jets using home-made liquid explosives in soft drink bottles.

Three men were convicted after a four-month trial of conspiring to commit mass murder by using the bombs against potential targets including Heathrow and Parliament. But a jury at Woolwich Crown Court, south-east London, could not decide whether they and four other men had planned to target airliners.

The failure to reach verdicts on the prosecution's main charge, that the alleged terrorist cell from London and Buckinghamshire intended to launch suicide attacks on at least seven flights from Heathrow to the US and Canada, raised questions about the conduct of one of Britain's biggest terrorism investigations.

The men denied that they were targeting planes, claiming instead they had only planned a "nuisance" campaign of explosions.

Sir Ken Macdonald QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, decided to seek a retrial of the seven men on each charge on which the jury had failed to reach a verdict. Lawyers will apply to the court for formal permission to hold a second trial. In a statement, Sir Ken said: "This will include a count that each defendant conspired to detonate improvised explosive devices on transatlantic aircraft."

The plot leader, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, of Walthamstow, east London, was convicted on Monday of conspiring to cause murder along with Assad Sarwar, 28, and Tanvir Hussain, 27. But the jury did not reach verdicts on four men: Ibrahim Savant, 27, Arafat Waheed Khan, 27, Waheed Zaman, 24, and Umar Islam, 30. The group all admitted a charge of conspiracy to commit public nuisance but said they wanted to make a political statement about British foreign policy without causing death or injury.

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