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3 British Muslims convicted in ’06 plot to bomb airliners

By Jill Lawless
Associated Press / July 9, 2010

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LONDON — A jury convicted three British Muslims yesterday of conspiring to murder hundreds of people as part of a plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic.

Ibrahim Savant, 29, Arafat Waheed Khan, 29, and Waheed Zaman, 26 were found guilty at London’s Woolwich Crown Court after a three-month trial. They will be sentenced Monday and face life imprisonment.

Prosecutors say the men were part of a group that planned to detonate liquid explosive bombs hidden in soft drink bottles on aircraft bound for the United States and Canada in 2006, blasts that could have killed people on the scale of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The plot was broken up when suspects were arrested in raids in London and surrounding area in August 2006. The foiled attack grounded hundreds of flights and changed air travel; airline authorities put strict restrictions on the quantity of liquids passengers can carry in their luggage — limits that remain in place.

It has taken four years to bring all the accused to justice. This was the third trial of the three defendants. Two earlier juries failed to reach verdicts on charges of conspiracy to murder.

They were acquitted at an earlier trial of knowing airplanes were the plot’s target, but prosecutors said they had prepared to become suicide bombers.

Prosecutor Sue Hemming said the trio “were involved in a calculated and sophisticated plot to create a terrorist event of major proportions, working alongside others who were determined to bring down aircraft using homemade explosives, causing the maximum possible loss of life.’’

Three other men, called the group’s ringleaders, are serving long sentences for the plot.

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