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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 00:32 GMT 01:32 UK
Q&A: UK terrorism trial
Key questions about the unprecedented terrorism trial that has ended in the UK - and links to all of the BBC's coverage.

Why was this trial important?

The fertiliser bomb plot, also known as Operation Crevice, was one of the biggest terrorism trials in British legal history - indeed one of the largest and most complex cases anywhere since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Five men were convicted of a conspiracy to build a massive homemade bomb from fertiliser, but were stopped before their could carry out the plan.

But, just as importantly, the trial was the first time the UK public have heard detailed evidence of how Islamist extremism - also called "jihadi" ideology - has developed among some angry young men and taken them overseas to train with the Taleban, Mujihadeen fighters and even members of the Al Qaeda network.

How serious was the plot?

Very. The ringleader of the plot, Omar Khyam, had organised the purchase and storage of 600kg of fertiliser, the key component of a bomb he had learned to build while at a paramilitary training camp in Pakistan.

Other figures overseas were brought in as the plot neared completion to perfect some of the bomb's technical issues. US military tests show that the bomb could have killed hundreds if detonated.

The device was never finished - the security services and police managed to smash the conspiracy - thanks to thousands of man hours of surveillance from MI5 and the police.

What did it reveal about the threat posed by terrorism?

It confirmed two things. So-called British "jihadis" were not operating alone - links established in court place the plotters in a global network that links the Americas, Europe and the Pakistan/Afghanistan region.

It also revealed that, while the number of people involved is small, the threat posed is significant because of their clear commitment to an extremist cause. Some of the plotters had travelled overseas to receive training or to help out with other extremist causes such as supporting the Taleban regime in Afghanistan.

How is 7/7 linked to this plot?

Omar Khyam, the ringleader, trained with London suicide bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan - and was seen meeting him in the UK.

He also met Shehzad Tanweer, another of the London bombers. MI5 saw Khyam meet Khan in the UK, but didn't keep the later bomber under surveillance because they say they had no intelligence he posed a genuine threat. In all, the security services were aware of some 55 potential extremists on the periphery of the fertiliser plot.

What lessons are there for the future?

Questions have been asked about how the security services make best use of their intelligence - not least in how spies work with the police. The trial also reveals the challenges posed by trying to keep such a conspiracy under surveillance over many months.

The trial also raises questions about the government's strategy for combating radicalisation. The young men involved in the plot came from ordinary backgrounds, but turned their back on a normal life and approach to religion as they became immersed in a revolutionary ideology, partly driven by events overseas.

So could it happen again?

MI5 chiefs have warned in the past how difficult it is to combat terrorism and that they can never guarantee complete security. But beyond that very basic security issue, questions are being raised about whether there should be a fresh inquiry into the 7 July bombings, what was known and whether they was genuinely preventable.






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