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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Fertiliser bomb trial: Bugged talk
The trial of seven men accused of planning to build a homemade fertiliser bomb to use against targets in the UK relied partly on hours of surveillance evidence and recordings of bugged conversations.

Omar Khyam, the ringleader, was followed by MI5 and counter-terrorism officers who had been on the trail of al-Qaeda sympathisers in the UK.

In February 2004, counter-terrorism officers began round-the-clock surveillance of the key suspects, including recording bugged conversations.

The complete operation included:

  • 24,000 hours of video
  • 3,000 hours of audio
  • 33,000 man hours of surveillance
  • 80 computers examined after arrest

Two of the accused, Nabeel Hussain and Shujah Mahmood, were found not guilty.

These are excerpts from key bugged conversations heard in court during the trial. Some of the sentences have been edited to assist comprehension.


On 20 February 2004, the operation obtained its first major piece of evidence.

Omar Khyam picked up Canadian Mohammed Momin Khawaja from Heathrow Airport. During the trial, the prosecution said that Khawaja, who is awaiting trial in Canada, was tasked with building a remote-controlled detonator for the bomb.

They stopped at an internet cafe in Slough, where Khawaja showed Khyam an image, saved on the web, of the detonator he was building.

Khyam then took Khawaja to his home in Hencroft Street in the town.

OMAR: "What does this device actually do?"

KHAWAJA: "What does it do? OK - you have two pieces, right? - a receiver and transmitter. The receiver will be similar to, let's say, a mobile phone, sort of like this.

"So it can get up to five volts or six volts. And so the receiver, what it does, basically, gets the signal when you press the button on the transmitter, it receives a signal.

"The output, the voltage... if you have a detonator wire[s] hooked up and that, will send a charge down the line to whatever you're sending it to."

Khawaja and Khyam attended a later meeting in Crawley also attended by Waheed Mahmood, Jawad Akbar and other men who were not charged as part of the operation. This meeting took place at a property in Crawley, which the surveillance team had not been able to bug or watch closely. The prosecution allege that Khawaja told the other alleged conspirators about the detonator.


During the surveillance of Omar Khyam, MI5 officers saw him meet an unidentified man on four occasions. That man was later confirmed to be Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the four July 2005 London suicide bombers.

Khan was sitting in Khyam's bugged car along with Shujah Mahmood and Shehzad Tanweer - another of the London bombers. They were talking about leaving the UK. Khan was debating whether he would say goodbye to his soon-to-be born child.

MSK: "With regards to the babe, I am debating whether or not to say goodbye and so forth."

OMAR KHYAM: "Insh'allah [God willing] when the time comes for me to leave at the end of the day by telling them you love them, bruv. You love them bruv, you love them for deen [Islamic way of life] it's because we love the Islamic way of life this much, that's why we stay away from them. I know it's better for me."

MSK: "Are you really a terrorist?"

OMAR KHYAM: "They're working with us."

MSK: "You're serious, you are basically?"

OMAR: "I'm not a terrorist but they're working through us."

MSK: "Who are? There's no one higher than you."

OMAR: "I do not even live in Crawley anymore, I moved out here [to Slough] because in the next month they are going to start raiding big time all over the UK."


Omar Khyam met Jawad Akbar at his home flat in Colley House, Uxbridge. During the conversation, which was being recorded by an audio probe, the pair discussed potential targets for bombing, including how they would manage to get a device into a location.

JAWAD AKBAR: "You could get jobs like this, yeah, like for example the biggest nightclub in central London. Where now here, yeah, now no one can even turn around and say 'Oh they were innocent,' - those slags dancing around.

OMAR KHYAM: "If you got a job in a bar, yeah, or club, say the Ministry of Sound, what are you planning to do there then?"

JAWAD AKBAR: "Blow the whole thing up."

OMAR KHYAM: "Right."

Later in the same meeting, the men discussed other targets and their security arrangements. The trial heard the conspirators had obtained CD-Roms detailing the national grid via co-defendant Waheed Mahmood, who at the time worked for a major gas engineering contractors.

OMARK KHYAM: "What I'm saying, right, what they're saying, the resources from this country, the electricity, the gas, going into the alarm engineers, stuff like this yeah, that I'm saying is good, get brothers in each and every field, from the gas to the electric, to the water, to the alarm engineers, everything."

JAWAD AKBAR: "I think the club thing you could do, but the gas would be much harder. Club stuff - there's people who even get in yeah, with like they're searching stuff yeah, but it's only the bouncers that search you."

"Bruv, just before we thing, you don't think this place is bugged, do you?"

OMAR KHYAM: "No, I don't think it's bugged bruv, at all. I don't even think the car is bugged. What we're doing, if they knew about it they wouldn't wait a day bro, they wouldn't wait one day to arrest me, yeah, or any of us."


In another bugged conversation, Omar Khyam talked about what he saw as the best way of attacking utilities. He concluded the most effective way would be to strike at more than one target.

OMAR KHYAM: "It has to be a simultaneous thing that the electrics go out so it's a black-out, then the gas lot move in and bang, yeah? Then something goes wrong with the water so it's a simultaneous attack, it would only work if it's that."


On another occasion, the surveillance teams saw Omar Khyam in his car along with Waheed Mahmood. The audio probe in the car picked up a conversation that the prosecution said showed the men were actively thinking of targets.

WAHEED MAHMOOD: "Bluewater is only an hour walk, local, tomorrow if you want, right?"

There then follows a section that is virtually inaudible but includes the phrases "a little explosion", "three days time" and "tomorrow little one."

Waheed Mahmood continues: "I don't know how big it would be... but might as well do one to see what it's like... do one tomorrow if you wanted to."

OMAR: "No."

WAHEED: "Yeah with that set up... can just do one tomorrow if you wanted to... I don't know how big it would to be... because we haven't tested it... we know it's going to work, inshallah [God willing]."

OMAR: "All I'm waiting, yeah, if Khalid says go that's it, you can go."

Khalid was the name used by Omar Khyam to refer to Salahuddin Amin, his co-defendant then living in Pakistan.


On another occasion, Omar Khyam and Jawad Akbar met at the student's Uxbridge home. They discussed the possibility of recruiting men to hijack and crash a plane. This was not a conversation associated directly with the bomb plot, but representative of many of the bugged conversations revealed in court.

OMAR KHYAM: "... nobody knows what's really going on, it's just ideas coming out [like the last] idea to hijack the plane, it's just an idea, we could have done it. Imagine you've got a plane yeah, 300 people in it, you buy tickets for 30 brothers in there, they're massive brothers, you just crash the plane. You could do it easy, it's just an idea."

JAWAD AKBAR: "Thirty brothers, to find 30 brothers willing to commit suicide is a big thing."

OMAR KHYAM: "If you spoke to some serious brothers, to the right people you'd probably get it bro."

JAWAD AKBAR: "Thirty brothers who would be willing to give their lives."

OMAR KHYAM: "Yeah you'd get it bro, whether they were from abroad, you'd get it. Thirty brothers on a British Airways flight got up, 19 were split up in four planes, 30 brothers on one plane, as soon as an air marshal gets up and shoots one the others, just jump him. Thirty brothers on a plane, the beauty of it is they don't have to fly into a building, just crash the flipping thing. It's an idea bruv, they never went through with it, so this is just an idea right now, it's a good idea, I'm not denying it, a good idea, but it's not there, it's not been put together. When you've got an idea you need everything there, a back up plan, back up emir... ."

Khyam's mention of 19 on a plane is a reference to the 11 September 2001 hijackers.

MI5's suveillance recordings of terrorist suspects.

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