AFP : Would-be plane bombers made suicide videos: prosecutor

Friday, April 04, 2008

Would-be plane bombers made suicide videos: prosecutor

April 4, 2008

LONDON (AFP) — Members of a group accused of plotting suicide attacks on flights from Britain to North America recorded Islamic martyrdom videos to announce their planned deaths, a prosecutor said Friday.

Videotapes made by six of the eight-man gang were found after police swooped on their homes in August 2006, prosecutor Peter Wright said on the second day of their trial at a high-security London court.

Prosecutors say police foiled a plot to use liquid explosives disguised as drinks to blow up at least seven flights from London's Heathrow airport as they headed to New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto and Montreal.

Following the men's arrests, strict new rules on carrying liquids on flights were introduced.

The court was shown a video in which a man said to be Umar Islam, 29, also known as Brian Young, said he was seeking "revenge" for the actions of the United States and its "accomplices such as the British and the Jews."

Wearing a traditional Islamic headscarf and sitting in front of a black flag emblazoned with Arabic script, Islam said: "We are doing this in order to gain the pleasure of our Lord, and Allah loves us to die and kill in his fires.

"Martyrdom operations upon martyrdom operations will keep on raining on these kuffars (non-believers) until they release us and leave our lands," he added.

Another defendant, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, also known as Ahmed Ali Khan, 27, said in his video he was the leader of the "blessed operation" and referred to Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

"Sheikh Osama has warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed, and now the time has come for you to be destroyed," he said.

Ali alleged the West showed "more care and concern for animals than you do for the Muslim Umah (Islamic nation)."

In another recording, a man said to be Waheed Zaman, 23, who had studied biomedical science, warned: "Remember as you kill us, you will be killed. As you bomb us, you will be bombed."

Wright told the jury that police found the videotapes at Islam's home in London and in a garage belonging to Assad Sarwar, 27.

"The recordings of these men were significant because they amounted to recordings in which each of these men contemplated losing their lives in some violent act perpetrated by them as a perceived act of martyrdom in the name of Islam," he said.

Searches of Sarwar's home also revealed a container containing 18 litres (five gallons) of hydrogen peroxide -- a chemical which can be used to make explosives -- wires, syringes and a thermometer.

The prosecution says the men were planning to detonate the explosives once the planes were airborne and thousands of passengers would have been killed.

Some of the accused considered taking their wives and children on suicide missions, the court heard.

Police listening to a bugged conversation heard Islam and Ali discuss a possible train bombing in which one participant wanted to take his child.

Ali said: "That's why he wanted to take his kid on the train with him -- shake them up."

Wright said a computer memory stick found at Sarwar's home suggested the gang had assessed other targets, including London's Canary Wharf tower -- the tallest in Britain -- a gas pipeline and a number of power stations.

Wright said: "The horizon in respect of Mr Sarwar's terrorist ambition was, we say, limitless."

The other four men in the dock at Woolwich Crown Court in London are: Tanvir Hussain, 27, Mohammed Gulzar, 26; Ibrahim Savant, 27; Arafat Waheed Khan, 26. Seven are from London, while Sarwar lives west of the capital.

All the defendants deny two charges -- conspiracy to murder between January and August 2006 and conspiracy to commit an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft between the same dates.