April 5, 2008 / 12:32 AM / in 10 years

Aircraft bombings in "revenge for Iraq": court

LONDON (Reuters) - Six Britons accused of plotting to blow up at least seven transatlantic airliners recorded martyrdom videos saying the attacks would be revenge for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a London court was told on Friday.

<p>A combination image of police handout photos presented at Woolwich Crown Court on April 3, 2008 of suspects accused of plotting to blow up transatlantic airliners using liquid explosive bombs. The suspects on trial are (Top L-R) Abdullah Ahmed Ali, Arafat Waheed Khan, Assad Sarwar and Ibrahim Savant (Bottom L-R) Mohammed Gulzar, Tanvir Hussain, Umar Islam and Waheed Zaman. REUTERS/Metropolitan Police/Handout</p>

Prosecutors said two of the suspects were secretly recorded discussing whether wives and children should go with them on the suicide mission.

In extracts of the videos heard in court the men said they wanted to punish non-Muslims and threatened “floods of martyrdom operations” because Osama bin Laden’s warnings had been ignored.

“If you think you can go into our lands and do what you are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and keep on supporting those who are fighting against Muslims and think it will not come back on your own doorstep may you have another think (sic) coming,” Umar Islam, one of the eight defendants said.

On Thursday, the jury heard the men had planned to use liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks to simultaneously blow up aircraft heading to Canada and the United States, causing widespread loss of life.

The eight British citizens on trial at the maximum security Woolwich Crown Court in east London, are Abdullah Ahmad Ali, 27, Assad Sarwar, 27, Tanvir Hussain, 27, Mohammed Gulzar, 26, Ibrahim Savant, 27, Arafat Khan, 26, Waheed Zaman, 23, and Umar Islam, 29. All are charged with conspiracy to murder.

They are also accused of plotting “to commit an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft.” They deny the charges.

Prosecutor Peter Wright said the suicide videos had been discovered in a camera in Sarwar’s car and on a cassette tape in the garage of his home. In all the videos, the men sat dressed in black in front of a black flag with Arabic writing in white.

“Each contained similar chilling sentiments,” Wright said.


Ali, said by prosecutors to be one of the three ringleaders, spoke of wanting to be involved in jihad since the age of 15.

“Sheikh Osama warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed,” Ali said. “You have nothing but to expect that floods of martyrdom operations, volcanoes of anger and revenge and raping among your capital.”

When asked by someone off camera about innocent victims, the men said there would be none, as Britons had failed to do enough to protest against their government’s actions, caring more about TV soaps and animals than the plight of Muslims.

Wright said computer memory sticks found at Sarwar’s house suggested other potential targets he had in mind, including: London’s Canary Wharf business district, British nuclear power stations, the electricity grid, a gas pipe line running between Belgium and Britain, various British airports, oil terminals and the UK’s main Internet service provider exchange.

He also said a bug hidden in the suspected bomb making factory, a house in east London, had recorded Ali and Islam talking about taking wives and children on the mission.

“Such a sacrifice is beyond contemplation for those, the target of an attack such as this, but not for those who participate in activities such as this,” Wright said.

Wright said hydrogen peroxide, which the prosecution said was the main component of the planned explosives, was found in Sarwar’s garage and the ingredients to make the detonator were discovered in a suitcase, belonging to Sarwar, buried in woodland near his home in High Wycombe, west of London.

The jury were shown a video clip of 500 ml of a hydrogen peroxide bomb in a bottle being blown up, damaging most of the room where the experiment was conducted.

The prosecution has said the men were close to putting their scheme into action when they were arrested in August 2006. That prompted a massive security response at global airports and a limit on liquids carried on board aircraft.

Editing by Matthew Jones

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