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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
The men who made a plot possible
By Dominic Casciani
BBC News home affairs

Dhiren Barot's fake Brunel University ID
Barot's fake ID: Organised by Bhatti so plotter could use library
Seven men have been jailed for their part in one of the most complex bomb plots in the UK. The case against them reveals how they went to extraordinary lengths to throw the security services off their scent.

If you want to send an e-mail, you do not travel hundreds of miles out of your way to do so.

But in the case of Abdul Aziz Jalil and Junade Feroze it involved a drive from London to Swansea, popping into an internet cafe - and then immediately leaving to travel home.

Such were the lengths taken by the seven men who formed a self-proclaimed "sleeper cell" of al-Qaeda sympathisers, determined to ensure the bomb plots of Dhiren Barot went ahead with devastating consequences.

Barot, 34, was jailed for life last year. At the time of his sentencing, the full scale of his plotting was revealed: video surveillance of targets in Manhattan, a London limousine to be packed with gas canisters - and research into blowing holes in tunnels under the Thames and releasing radioactivity over the capital.

But it was only with the support of the seven men jailed on Friday at Woolwich Crown Court that Barot, described as the most senior al-Qaeda operative in the UK, could push ahead with his plots.

Crucial to success

Over the four years leading up their arrest in August 2004, the men assisted Barot as he meticulously devised, researched and refined multiple plans to hit targets in the UK and US.

JAILED FOR 136 YEARS
Clockwise from top left: Junade Feroze, Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, Zia Ul Haq, Abdul Aziz Jalil, Dhiren Barot, Omar Abdur Rehman, Nadeem Tarmohamed and Qaisar Shaffi
Mohammed Bhatti: 20 years
Junade Feroze: 22 years
Zia Ul Haq: 18 years
Abdul Jalil: 26 years
Omar Rehman: 15 years
Qaisar Shaffi: 15 years
Nadeem Tarmohamed: 20 years
Six of the men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause explosions. Shaffi was found guilty of conspiracy to murder.
The plans were found on computers, both in the UK and Pakistan. They were professional documents drawn up as business plans - as if they were to be presented to superiors.

It was the job of the seven men to help Barot leave no stone unturned in the planning.

Barot's principal objective was to kill hundreds if not thousands of people without warning, prosecutors said. He wanted to bring down iconic buildings and cause panic.

The seven men were his technical team and he maximised their personal skills. Ul Haq, jailed for 18 years, was a trained chartered surveyor who understood the dynamics of buildings.

Omar Rehman, jailed for 15 years, found a job at a hotel and police believe he used his time there to research disabling security and fire systems.

Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, jailed for 20 years, was a driver. He organised false identities for Barot and assisted in critical areas of research. His home was used to store and catalogue the plans.

Feroze, jailed for 22 years, employed counter-surveillance techniques for the men, often keeping watch during meetings. He was also involved in researching gas canisters for the main limousine bomb plot.

Jalil, jailed for 26 years, ran a safe-house identified by MI5 officers where false identities and money was kept. He is also believed to have trained with mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan.

Qaisar Shaffi and Nadeem Tarmohamed, jailed for 15 and 20 years respectively, were key to the plots in the US. When Shaffi fell ill with tuberculosis on the second reconnaissance trip to New York, Tarmohamed was on a plane within 24 hours to replace him.

Counter-surveillance skills

MI5 identified Barot as a serious risk in June 2004 and soon realised it was going to be a difficult operation.

As an essential requirement, it was necessary that the commission of this project be possible by a small group of persons - this was because of the vast lack o numbers within our sleeper cell
Dhiren Barot in his gas cylinders limousine bomb plan
Barot rarely stayed in one place for more than a few days. None of the men used mobile phones. If they needed to talk by phone, it was from public boxes.

Meetings were in wide-open spaces to minimise the chances of close surveillance or eavesdropping.

When walking and talking, one of the men would stop and look around, or sometimes drop back completely to monitor those around them.

The team would separate and later pass each other without acknowledgement, before meeting up again. Meetings indoors rarely happened without one acting as watch.

Surveillance officers saw them driving "illogical routes" around roundabouts more than once, doubling back, suddenly leaving motorways and parking a long distance from their homes.

A tanker driver advert, recovered from one of the home addresses
Tanker driver: Plotters looked at training and jobs useful to plots

On one occasion Barot and Jalil parked two streets away from a flat before walking around three sides of a square to reach it, completely at odds with conventional behaviour.

The men maintained a series of false identities for Barot so he could travel without suspicion. The plotters who did fly would report their passports lost so they could obtain fresh documents with no traceable history.

And finally emailing was only done in elaborate code from internet cafes - including the Swansea incident. The Yahoo email addresses had no meaningful connection to the men: "kewl_n_kinki", "bridget_jonesdiaries", and "nighwithkylie".

The team were so professional that ultimately surveillance officers from both MI5 and the police found it impossible to maintain observation on Barot and he disappeared on 28 July 2004.

The security services knew he was up to something - and decided it would be too risky to allow it to happen again. They decided to arrest the conspirators as soon as he reappeared, five days later.

Evidence at home

All of their reconnaissance and research left a trail - and computers, DVDs and notebooks were key to the case.

The US plans were recovered from an encrypted DVD. UK plans were also found on a computer in Pakistan - building the case that Barot was working with direct approval of al-Qaeda figures.

At Bhatti's home in Harrow, north London, police recovered handwritten notes, books CDs and DVDs all containing research for the attacks.

The material included maps, photographs and diagrams and technical literature for bomb recipes. One notebook included a list of ISBN numbers, referring to books on fire safety and control in buildings.

While forensic scientists linked all of the material to Barot - in time, they also linked it back to each of the seven men.


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