Ex-airline worker guilty in bomb plot
British jury finds he conspired to blow up BA jet
LONDON — A jury convicted a former
Rajib Karim, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi, was convicted of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks. He had already pleaded guilty to five other terrorism offenses but denied plotting an attack in Britain.
A jury deliberated for 16 hours before agreeing with prosecutors who said Karim used his position at the airline to conspire with Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with Al Qaeda, US-born but thought to be hiding in Yemen. At one point, encouraged by Awlaki, Karim applied for training as a flight attendant.
Colin Gibbs, a counterterrorism lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Karim “was plotting with the cleric to use his job at BA to kill hundreds of innocent people.’’
“The most chilling element of this case is probably the fact that Karim tried to enroll as cabin crew, and anyone can imagine how horrific the consequences of this could have been, had he succeeded,’’ Gibbs said.
Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the court that Karim “sought work in this country of the sort which would be useful to him or a terrorist organization in planning an attack — an attack of the sort which might result in the wholesale loss of life.’’
Prosecutors said that in heavily encrypted exchanges, Awlaki quizzed Karim about details of security flaws and urged the aspiring terrorist to train as a flight attendant to assist plans to use suicide bombers or mail bombs to down flights bound for the United States.
“Our highest priority is in the US,’’ Awlaki told Karim in an encrypted message, thought by police to have been sent in February 2010. “The question is, with the people you have, is it possible to get a package, or a person with a package, onboard a flight heading to the US?’’
The cleric told Karim he hoped the Bangladeshi would be able to supply “critical and urgent information’’ related to airline security because of his role at BA. He told the airline worker he “may be able to play a crucial role’’ in future attacks.
Karim, who was arrested at his BA desk in Newcastle in February 2010. He is to be sentenced March 18.