x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Three convicted of plot to blow up airliners

British trio convicted of conspiring to kill thousands of civilians by blowing up trans-Atlantic flights in mid-air with liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks.

LONDON // Three Britons have been convicted of conspiring to kill thousands of civilians by blowing up trans-Atlantic flights in mid-air with liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks. A jury at a London courthouse found Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Assad Sarwar, 29, and Tanvir Hussain, 28, guilty of conspiracy to murder by detonating explosives on aircraft. The trial started in February. The jury found that they were the ringleaders of a conspiracy to carry out the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11.

Four other alleged conspirators - whom the prosecution said were to have carried the bombs onto the planes - were acquitted of conspiring to blow up planes. The jury could not reach a verdict on an eighth man. The men's arrests in August 2006 led to huge travel chaos, as hundreds of flights were grounded and thousands of people had their trips disrupted. They also triggered changes to airport security - including restrictions on carrying liquids on planes - that persist to this day.

Peter Wright, prosecuting, said the men planned to smuggle the bomb ingredients aboard jets bound from Britain to North America disguised as "soft-drinks bottles, batteries and other innocuous items" carried in hand luggage. "They were to be detonated inflight by suicide bombers," including several of the accused, he said. Mr Wright said the plot would have caused "a civilian death toll from terrorism on an almost unprecedented scale".

The defendants had all denied the charge, claiming they planned a stunt to make a political point. *AP