Three Britons arraigned for terrorism
Prosecutors said the men, fired up by the sermons of a US-born al-Qaeda preacher, hoped to cause carnage on a mass scale. But their plot was undone by mishaps with money and logistics, and ended in a police counterterrorism swoop last year.
Prosecution lawyer Brian Altman said Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, both 27, and 31-year-old Irfan Naseer, were central players in a plan to mount a terrorist attack “on a scale potentially greater than the London bombings in July 2005.” Fifty-two commuters were killed when four al-Qaida-inspired suicide bombers blew themselves up on London’s bus and subway network on July 7, 2005.
The suspects are among a group of men and one woman arrested in September 2011 in the central English city of Birmingham. All Three are charged with preparing for terrorism by plotting a bombing campaign, recruiting others and fundraising. Khalid and Naseer also are accused of traveling to Pakistan for terrorism training.
They have pleaded not guilty.
Altman said the Three were key figures in a plan to detonate up to eight knapsack bombs in a suicide attack, or to explode timer bombs in crowded areas “in order to cause mass deaths and casualties.” Prosecutors say targets and other details had not been finalized when the men were arrested.
The Three defendants sat quietly and appeared to follow proceedings closely from the dock at London’s high-security Woolwich Crown Court. The trial is due to last several weeks. Altman said the trio were the senior members of a home-grown terror cell inspired by the anti-Western sermons of U.S.-born Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in Yemen in September 2011.
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