Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 17:25 UK

'Airliners plot': The allegations

The trial of eight men accused of a plan to suicide-bomb passenger planes has begun at Woolwich Crown Court in south London.

The eight men all deny conspiring to murder others and endangering aircraft.

Below are the key allegations in the prosecution's introduction to what is expected to be a long and complicated case.

THE PLAN

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, opened the trial saying the men had intended to target planes leaving the UK for North America.

The alleged ringleaders
Alleged leaders: Ali (main), Sarwar (top right) and Gulzar (bottom right)

Some of the men intended to take a home-made explosive on board the flights and detonate it themselves.

The prosecution says the explosions would have been co-ordinated and that the plot was nearing the moment of completion when arrests were made.

Some of the men were under surveillance, the court heard. The security services watched two of the men in a flat on Forest Road, Walthamstow, as they made "final preparations", said Mr Wright.

THE TARGETS

The alleged plan was to target a series of planes leaving from Heathrow Airport for North America. Police say they found a list of flights on a memory stick belonging to Mr Ali following his arrest. The memory stick allegedly listed scheduled flights from three carriers - America Airlines, United Airlines and Air Canada:

  • 1415 UA931 LHR-SAN FRANCISCO (United Airlines)
  • 1500 AC849 LHR-TORONTO (Air Canada)
  • 1515 AC865 LHR-MONTREAL (Air Canada)
  • 1540 UA959 LHR-CHICAGO (United)
  • 1620 UA925 LHR-WASHINGTON
  • 1635 AA131 LHR-NEW YORK (American Airlines)
  • 1650 AA91 LHR-CHICAGO (American)

Prosecutors say the alleged plotters would ensure that all the targeted planes were in the air before putting their plan into operation. In other words, the alleged bombings would take place in sequence - but the authorities would not be able to intervene. The allegedly targeted planes would all be either 777, 767 or 763 jets able to each carry between 241 and 285 people.

Prosecutors say the trial will reveal that the two main conspirators talked of targeting up to 18 flights.

THE BOMBS

The bombs the men allegedly planned to use would be home-made. Each alleged bomber would board a plane with the "necessary ingredients and equipment".

Tang

They would then construct the devices mid-flight and detonate them.

The prosecution say the trial will show that the alleged bombers' devices would be sufficient to "cause a loss of their own lives but also all of those who happened by chance to be taking the same journey".

The alleged bombs would involve 500ml plastic bottles of the Oasis and Lucozade soft drinks. A sugary drink powder, Tang, would be mixed with hydrogen peroxide, used as a hair bleach, and other organic materials.

Hydrogen peroxide and the other ingredients can become explosive if mixed to a specific strength. Mr Wright said hydrogen peroxide had been used in "previous terrorist incidents".

The mixture would be injected into a bottle with the help of a syringe. The bottle's cap would not have been removed and the hole would have been resealed, said Mr Wright.

A second substance, a type of high explosive, would be hidden within an AA battery to form the small charge required to detonate the main bomb.

The charge would be detonated, said Mr Wright, by linking the bottle of explosives to a lightbulb and a disposable camera. The charge from the camera's flash unit would be enough to trigger the explosion, he said. The BBC has not comprehensively detailed the alleged bombs' composition.





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