x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

British Airways worker guilty of airline bomb plot

Rajib Karim, 31, from Bangladesh, was convicted in London of preparing for terrorist attacks with the US-born extremist cleric Anwar al Awlaki, who is thought to be in hiding in Yemen.

LONDON // A jury has convicted a former British Airways computer specialist of plotting with the US-born extremist cleric Anwar al Awlaki to blow up an airplane.

Rajib Karim, 31, from Bangladesh, was convicted of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks. He had already pleaded guilty to other, lesser, terrorism offenses.

Prosecutors said he used his position at the airline to plot an attack with al Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with al Qa'eda and thought to be hiding in Yemen.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the court that Karim "sought work in this country of the sort which would be useful to him or a terrorist organization in planning an attack - an attack of the sort which might result in the wholesale loss of life."

Prosecutors said that in heavily encrypted exchanges, Al Awlaki quizzed Karim about details of security flaws and urged the aspiring terrorist to train as a flight attendant to assist plans to use suicide bombers or mail bombs to down US-bound flights.

"Our highest priority is in the US," al Awlaki told Karim in an encrypted message, thought by police to have been sent in February 2010. "The question is, with the people you have, is it possible to get a package, or a person with a package, onboard a flight heading to the US?"

The cleric told Karim he hoped the British Airways man would be able to supply "critical and urgent information" related to airline security because of his role at BA.

Karim, who was arrested at his BA desk in the northern English city of Newcastle in February 2010, was convicted after a trial at Woolwich Crown Court in London.

He is due to be sentenced on March 18.

Karim, who moved to Britain in 2006 and joined BA the following year, admitted helping make a video about an organisation called Jamaat Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh because he believed it had been misrepresented as a terrorist organisation.

He pleaded guilty to helping produce a terrorist group's video, fundraising and volunteering for terror abroad, but insisted he never planned an attack in Britain.