A gang of British Muslims planned to blow up seven planes within hours in the biggest terrorist atrocity since 9/11, a court heard yesterday.
Two thousand passengers would have died in the plot by eight fanatics working "in the name of Islam", the jury was told.
It could have involved up to 18 suicide bombers. And they were almost ready to strike.
The jets they targeted would all have been bound from Heathrow to cities in the U.S. and Canada, it was claimed.
Once the first had exploded the authorities would have had to watch, powerless, as the six others were downed.
Plastic soft-drink bottles were to be the murder weapon - filled with explosive and connected to a detonator.
The alleged plot led to a ban on liquid containers bigger than 100ml which is still in force at UK airports.
Had it been successful, the death toll would have far eclipsed the 52 killed on July 7, 2005, when four suicide bombers detonated their rucksacks on the London transport system.
And if the conspirators chose to blow themselves up over land, the number of casualties in the air and on the ground could have exceeded the Twin Towers attacks in which nearly 3,000 died.
Yesterday eight men went on trial at Woolwich Crown Court in South-East London accused of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to commit an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said: "What these men intended was a violent and deadly statement of intent which would have a truly global impact.
"These men were actively engaged in a deadly plan designed to bring about what would have been, had they been successful, a civilian death toll from an act of terrorism on an almost unprecedented scale.
"If each of these aircraft was successfully blown up the potential for loss of life was indeed considerable.
"And there would be little if any chance of saving any of them from their impending disaster.
"For when the mid-flight explosions began the authorities would be unable to prevent the other flights from meeting a similar fate as they would already be in mid air and carrying their deadly cargo."
He described the defendants as having the "cold-eyed certainty of the fanatic".
Friday, April 04, 2008
From today's Daily Mail (UK):