LONDON, (Reuters) – Six Britons accused of plotting to blow up at least seven transatlantic airliners recorded martyrdom videos saying the attacks were revenge for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a London court heard on Friday.
In extracts played and read to the jury, the men said their mission was to punish non-Muslims and warned of “floods of martyrdom operations” because governments had ignored the warnings of Osama bin Laden. “If you think you can go into our lands and do what you are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and keep on supporting those who are fighting against Muslims and think it will not come back on your own doorstep may you have another think coming,” Umar Islam, one of the eight defendants said.
On Thursday, the court was told the men had planned to use liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks to simultaneously blow up at least seven aircraft heading to Canada and the United States, causing casualties on an almost unprecedented scale.
The eight British citizens on trial at the maximum security Woolwich Crown Court in east London, are Abdullah Ahmad Ali, 27, Assad Sarwar, 27, Tanvir Hussain, 27, Mohammed Gulzar, 26, Ibrahim Savant, 27, Arafat Khan, 26, Waheed Zaman, 23, and Umar Islam, 29. All are charged with conspiracy to murder. They are also accused of plotting “to commit an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft”. They deny the charges.
Prosecutor Peter Wright said the suicide videos had been discovered in a camera in Sarwar’s car and on a cassette tape in the garage of his home. In all the videos, the men sat dressed in black in front of a black flag with Arabic writing in white. “Each contained similar chilling sentiments,” Wright said.
Ali, said by prosecutors to be one of the three ringleaders, spoke of wanting to be involved in jihad since the age of 15. “Sheikh Osama warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed,” Ali said. “You have nothing but to expect that floods of martyrdom operations, volcanoes of anger and revenge and raping among your capital.”
When asked by someone off camera about innocent victims, the men said there would be none, as Britons had failed to do enough to protest against their government’s actions, caring more about TV soaps and animals than the plight of Muslims.
Wright said computer memory sticks found at Sarwar’s house suggested other potential targets he had in mind, including: London’s Canary Wharf business district, British nuclear power stations, Britain’s electricity grid, a gas pipe line running between Belgium and Britain, various British airports, oil terminals and the UK’s main Internet service provider exchange.
Wright said 18 litres of hydrogen peroxide, which the prosecution said was the main component of the planned explosives, was found in Sarwar’s garage.
Police also found a suitcase, belonging to Sarwar, buried in woodland near his home in High Wycombe, west of London, Wright said. This contained the ingredients to make the detonator. The jury were shown a video clip of 500 ml of a hydrogen peroxide bomb in a bottle being blown up, damaging most of the room where the experiment was conducted. “An explosion such as that would, we say, have a devastating, quite lethal effect … particularly at 30,000 feet,” Wright said.
The prosecution has said the men were close to putting their scheme into action when they were arrested in August 2006. That prompted a massive security response at global airports and a limit on liquids carried on board aircraft.