Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 21:09 UK

Men 'planned airliner explosions'

The accused men
All eight men deny conspiring to murder others

Eight men planned to detonate bombs aboard flights from London across the Atlantic to create deaths on an almost unprecedented scale, a court has heard.

Homemade devices were to be smuggled on to passenger aircraft and detonated mid-flight, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

After their arrests in August 2006, passengers were banned from carrying most liquids on board aircraft.

The eight men all deny conspiring to murder others and endangering aircraft bound for the US and Canada in 2006.

Prosecutor Peter Wright QC said the men planned to inflict heavy casualties, "all in the name of Islam".

He told the court: "These men were, we say, indifferent to the carnage that was likely to ensue.

"Some of the men you see in the dock are those who were prepared to sacrifice their own lives."

Mr Wright said two of the men were watched by police as they met in Walthamstow on 9 August, 2006.

"The disaster they contemplated was not long off," he said.

Abdul Ahmed Ali, 27
Assad Sarwar, 24
Tanvir Hussain, 27
Mohammed Gulzar, 26
Ibrahim Savant, 27
Arafat Waheed Khan, 26
Waheed Zaman, 23
Umar Islam, 29

"They were prepared to board an aircraft with the necessary ingredients and equipment to construct and detonate a device that would bring about not only the loss of their own lives but also all of those who happened by chance to be taking the same journey."

Mr Wright said Mr Ali, Mr Sarwar and Mr Gulzar were the main men behind the plot.

"Unfortunately for these men, but to the considerable good fortune of those that were their intended targets of those devices, their activities had come to the attention of the police," he said

He said from what police had observed "it was realised that these men, together with others, were engaged in some sort of terrorist plot".

A computer memory stick recovered by police contained details of flight timetables, baggage information, security advice and other information about Heathrow airport, he said.

The jury heard the information focused on only one-way flights leaving Heathrow between August 2006 and August 2007.

The planes were destined to fly from London to cities across North America, including Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Washington, the court heard.

The seven daily flights highlighted from Heathrow's Terminal 3 were:

  • 1415 United Airlines Flight 931 to San Francisco
  • 1500 Air Canada Flight 849 to Toronto
  • 1515 Air Canada Flight 865 to Montreal
  • 1540 United Airlines Flight 959 to Chicago
  • 1620 United Airlines Flight 925 to Washington
  • 1635 American Airlines Flight 131 to New York
  • 1650 American Airlines Flight 91 to Chicago

Mr Wright said there was evidence that the men planned to bring down more planes than just those seven.

The jury heard the main ingredient of the explosives would have been hydrogen peroxide mixed with other organic materials.

The liquid explosive would have been injected in to 500ml plastic bottles of soft drinks Oasis and Lucozade, Mr Wight said.

A sugary drink known as Tang would be mixed with the solution to add power to the explosion, he continued.

Mr Wright told the court the devices would be detonated using a substance called HMTD (hexamethylene triperoxide diamine) concealed in AA 1.5-volt batteries.

He said of hydrogen peroxide: "It is capable of being detonated to deadly effect, as previous terrorist incidents have demonstrated."

Bomb parts
It is alleged the explosives would have been injected in to drinks bottles

The jury was shown pages from Mr Ali's handwritten diary which make apparent references to how the bomb materials would have been got on to the aircraft.

Mr Wright said the bombers would have used a syringe in the base of the bottles to insert the explosive material.

The detonator would have been ignited using a metal wire, a small bulb or the flash from a disposable camera.

The defendants are Abdul Ahmed Ali, aka Ahmed Ali Khan, 27, of Walthamstow, Assad Sarwar, 24, of High Wycombe, Tanvir Hussain, 27, of no fixed address, and Mohammed Gulzar, 26, of Barking.

Also charged, are Ibrahim Savant, 27, of Walthamstow, Arafat Waheed Khan, 26, of Walthamstow, Waheed Zaman, 23, of Walthamstow and Umar Islam, aka Brian Young, 29, of High Wycombe.

The trial, which is expected to last eight months, was adjourned until Friday.

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