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Gabriela Rantau

hree found guilty in bombing campaign   September 9, 2008, 6:19 am
[Three men have been found guilty in the UK of conspiracy to murder in a
terrorist bombing campaign.]           AFP ©         [Enlarge photo]
A British jury has found three men guilty of conspiracy to murder in a
terrorist bombing campaign, but could not find enough evidence to
convict them of a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners.

Prosecutors said they would seek a retrial of the three men - plus four
others on whom the jury was unable to reach verdicts over the same

A jury has found Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain
guilty of conspiracy to murder by trying to make a bomb out of hydrogen

The jury failed to reach verdicts on charges against four other
defendants - Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan, Waheed Zaman and Umar

An eighth man, Mohammed Gulzar, was found not guilty.

The jury also was unable to reach a verdict on prosecutors' claims that
Ali intended to target passenger jets flying from London to major North
American cities with suicide attacks.

Prosecutor Peter Wright said during the trial that the men planned to
attack United Airlines , American Airlines and Air Canada flights at the
height of the 2006 summer vacation season.

The men's plans were stopped by British and US intelligence officers in
a marathon investigation that led to a bomb factory in eastern London,
British woodlands where chemicals had been dumped and to Japan ,
Mauritius, South Africa and Pakistan 's lawless tribal areas where
conversations were intercepted.

Police swooped down and arrested two dozen suspects in dawn raids across
Britain on August 10, 2006, a date that would go down in history as the
day when air travel changed dramatically.

Airports in the United States and Europe ground to a halt with hundreds
of flights cancelled over security concerns. Planes were stuck on
runways for hours. Tempers flared as passengers lined up to surrender
carry-on items under new security precautions that restricted the
quantity of liquids in their luggage.

A lawyer for Ali, the alleged ringleader of the group, insisted last
month he was guilty only of planning a childish stunt to make a
political point.

Ali acknowledged planning to release anti-Western videos and detonate
explosives at a high-profile location as part of a campaign to change
the British government's policy toward the Muslim world.

"It was childish, it was stupid, but it is not murder," the lawyer,
Nadine Radford, said during a July hearing.

Ali, Sarwar and Hussain had already pleaded guilty to conspiring to
cause explosions. All eight denied conspiracy to murder.

Ali told the court they planned to set off a small bomb at a site such
as the Houses of Parliament or Heathrow Airport to advertise a
propaganda documentary protesting the West's actions in Afghanistan and
Iraq . He denied intending to kill anyone.

Ali, Sarwar, Hussain and two others also have acknowledged conspiring to
cause a public nuisance by distributing al-Qaeda -style videos
threatening suicide bomb attacks in Britain. The three remaining
defendants deny all charges.

Prosecutors say the airline cell was likely inspired by both the
September 11, 2001, attacks and the July 2005 London transit bombings,
although they do not allege the men had direct links to al-Qaeda .

Wright told the court police found a computer memory stick in Ali's
pocket with details of flights from London's Heathrow Airport to
Chicago, New York, Boston, Denver, Miami and Montreal.

Prosecutors also say the men had stockpiled enough hydrogen peroxide to
create 20 liquid bombs, although they did not create any viable
explosives, and no date had been chosen for the attacks.

Judge David Calvert-Smith said sentencing would be at a later date.

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