08/09/2009

Airline Bomb Plotters Convictions "Vindication" Of UK Intelligence

Britain's intelligence efforts have been praised following the conviction of the airline bomb plotters.

The former security minister Tony McNulty said the convictions were "a real vindication" of police, security services and Crown Prosecution Service efforts.

The three men who plotted to blow up planes in mid flight from the UK to America and Canada were on Monday found guilty of conspiracy to murder.

The men planned to smuggle liquid explosives disguised as fizzy drinks through airport security undetected, before detonating their bombs in the air.

Abdullah Ahmed ALI, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain were found guilty by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court of conspiracy to murder by detonating improvised explosive devices on board transatlantic passenger aircraft.

They will be sentenced on Monday 14th September.

Mr McNulty said: "There were many, straight after these arrests, who were saying "Oh, it's just another attack on the Muslim communities, it's just another plot that will be seen to be not quite what the authorities are saying".

"The convictions are a real vindication of a lot of effort by a lot of people - security services, police, and equally the Crown Prosecution Service for having the courage to go back when the juries who were hung last time and say "Look, hold on, we think there is something here, we need to go further"."

The operation, codenamed Operation Overt, was one of the biggest investigations in the history of the Met. It incorporated the largest ever surveillance operation, which included teams from all over the country.

Ali and Hussain used a 'bomb factory' at 386a Forest Road in Walthamstow, east London, to plan and manufacture elements of their Improvised Explosive Devices.

They were arrested overnight on August 9/10 2006 in a joint pre-planned intelligence led operation by the Metropolitan Police and the Security Service.

Following their arrests searches were carried out at various properties and open spaces. During these searches, officers found significant items relating to their plans, including dozens of litres of hydrogen peroxide; bulbs and wires; a thermometer; batteries, and - crucially - a digital tape containing the suicide videos relating to Ali and Hussain.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner John McDowall, head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command and Senior National Co-ordinator Counter Terrorism, said: "If these terrorists had been successful, many people would have lost their lives. Many more would have died if they had chosen to detonate their bombs over land.

"They intended to cause carnage through a series of co-ordinated and deadly explosions and bring terror into the lives of people around the globe."

He continued: "Apart from massive loss of life, these attacks would have had enormous world-wide economic and political consequences.

"But their plans were thwarted by the police and security services before they could commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale."

(GK/KMcA)


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