Guardian : I expect to go to jail, says airline bomb plot 'ringleader'

Friday, June 27, 2008

I expect to go to jail, says airline bomb plot 'ringleader'

Haroon Siddique and agencies | June 4, 2008

The alleged leader of a gang of eight men accused of plotting to blow up transatlantic planes in mid-air today told a court his intentions had been "taken out of proportion".

Abdulla Ahmed Ali said he expected to go to prison for planning to detonate a device at Heathrow airport's terminal three.

However, the 27-year-old insisted the device was not intended to do any damage and was a protest against Britain's foreign policy.

He denied the prosecution's case that he planned to smuggle liquid explosives, hidden in soft drink bottles, on to planes and detonate them during flights to north America.

The prosecution alleges that the plot, which was foiled in August 2006, would have killed more than 1,500 people.

Ali told jurors at Woolwich crown court: "I understand that admitting to use an explosive device in a sensitive place such as an airport is an offence, and I don't expect to go home after the trial - I expect to do time for that.

"This whole thing has been blown up out of proportion. I'm not going to admit to something I didn't do and never intended to do."

He maintained that the plastic bottle and battery explosive device he attempted to make was never intended to harm.

"That's the truth," he said. "I've done something which is an offence, I'm putting my hand up to that."

He claimed the charges against him had been "exaggerated", with the media being used "to ruthless effect".

Ali and five other defendants made alleged "martyrdom" videos in which they threatened bloodshed in response to UK and US foreign policy.

In Ali's video, he vowed to teach non-Muslims "a lesson they will never forget" and warned of "body parts … decorating the streets" if Muslims were not left alone.

He has claimed the films were meant to form part of a "documentary" that would be posted on the internet and highlight unjust foreign policies.

Ali said the explosion was intended as a way to draw attention to the documentary.

He admitted giving his co-defendants Ibrahim Savant and Arafat Waheed Khan scripts to record videos, but said they knew nothing about the plan to detonate a device.

However, he said he had discussed the idea of a device with co-defendant Tanvir Hussain when they smoked a hashish pipe in April 2006.

The defendants deny conspiring to murder between January 1 and August 11 2006, and conspiring to commit an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft between the same dates

Ali, of Prospect Hill, Walthamstow, east London, is on trial with seven other men.

They are Assad Sarwar, 28, of High Wycombe; Buckinghamshire; Hussain, 27, of Leyton, east London; Mohammed Gulzar, 26, of Barking, east London; Savant, 27, of Denver Road, Stoke Newington, north London; Khan, 27, of Walthamstow; Waheed Zaman, 24, of Walthamstow, and Umar Islam, aka Brian Young, 30, of Plaistow, east London.

The trial continues.