‘Pakistan controlled’ British terrorists get 108 years


London : Naming Pakistan as the country from where they were “controlled”, a judge Monday sent three British Muslims to jail for a total of at least 108 years for plotting to blow up liquid bombs on flights from Britain to North America.

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Ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, was jailed for at least 40 years, plot “quartermaster” Assad Sarwar, 29, for at least 36 years and Tanvir Hussain, 28, for at least 32 years.

Judge Richard Henriques said crucial evidence presented at the retrial – emails which were unavailable to prosecutors in the first trial last year – “are a vital source of information as to the control, progress and scope of this conspiracy”.

“They establish beyond question the ultimate control of this conspiracy lay in Pakistan,” he told the men – who were born in Britain but had close links with Pakistan – at Woolwich Crown Court in London.

He said others in Pakistan controlled, monitored and funded the plot.

Evidence at the trial showed that several of the plotters, like those of 9/11, had travelled to Pakistan for indoctrination and training by extremist groups linked to Al Qaeda.

British and US security officials said the plan was directly linked to Al Qaeda and guided by Islamic militants in Pakistan, who sent instructions to the group via coded email messages.

The men’s arrests in August 2006 caused chaos in the global aviation industry and led to a strict security check regime – with a limit on how much liquids passengers can carry – that continues to this day.

“The intention was to perpetrate a terrorist outrage that would stand alongside the events of Sept 11, 2001 in history,” the judge said, calling the plot “the most grave and wicked conspiracy ever proven within this jurisdiction”.

The trial heard that at the time of his arrest, Ahmed Ali, of Walthamstow, east London, had identified seven US and Canada-bound flights that were to be attacked within a two-and-a-half-hour period.

“Had this conspiracy not been interrupted, a massive loss of life would almost certainly have resulted – and if the detonation was over land, the number of victims would have been even greater still,” Henriques said.

The judge said that the plot had “reached an advanced stage in its development”, with the men in possession of enough chemicals to produce 20 detonators aimed at blowing up flights from Heathrow airport to San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal.