Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 17:33 UK

Air plot accused 'expects prison'

Accused plotter Abdulla Ahmed Ali
Abdulla Ahmed Ali insists he did not want to harm anyone

The alleged leader of a terrorist plot to blow up passenger planes has told a jury he does not expect to return home at the end of his trial.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali has told the court he planned an explosion at US airline offices at Heathrow's Terminal Three.

He said knew he would spend a long time in prison, but insisted the case against him had been exaggerated.

Mr Ali, 27, is one of eight men who deny a plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic in 2006.

'Out of proportion'

Prosecutors claim the defendants planned to make hydrogen peroxide bombs disguised as soft drinks to detonate in mid-air on at least seven transatlantic passenger planes flying out of Heathrow airport.

Asked if he understood the consequences of his evidence, he said he expected to go to prison.

He said: "I understand that admitting to use an explosive device in a sensitive place such as an airport is an offence and I don't expect to go home after the trial, I expect to do time for that."

This was a mission you had been delegated the honour of leading
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting

He added: "This whole thing has been blown up out of proportion. I'm not going to admit to something I didn't do and never intended to do."

Mr Ali he said the explosive device he tried to make using a plastic bottle and a battery was not meant to do "any damage".

He said: "That's the truth. I've done something which is an offence, I'm putting my hand up to that."

At Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday he had admitted planning to set off a device at the terminal.

'Wholesale slaughter'

Prosecutor Peter Wright QC said Mr Ali had been planning to "wreak carnage" in the skies on the orders of al-Qaeda.

"This was a mission you had been delegated the honour of leading," Mr Wright said, accusing the defendant of intending to carry out "the next wholesale slaughter of a civilian population".

Mr Ali rejected this. "I didn't receive any instructions," he said.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27
Assad Sarwar, 25
Tanvir Hussain, 27
Mohammed Gulzar, 26
Ibrahim Savant, 27
Arafat Waheed Khan, 27
Waheed Zaman, 24
Umar Islam, 30

The defendant agreed that he felt partly responsible for what prosecutors called "the wholesale interruption of international travel which resulted from his arrest", including the banning of liquids on flights.

But he said the government shared some of the responsibility for "exaggerating" the threat posed.

He admitted he had enough material to make 28 bottle bombs and 20 detonators, but said there was never a plan to carry out suicide bombings.

Mr Wright accused him of being responsible for "the trepidation of other travellers who depart on an aircraft fearing they could be blown from the skies".

Mr Ali's co-defendants are: Assad Sarwar, 25, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Tanvir Hussain, 27, of Leyton, east London, Waheed Zaman, 24, and Arafat Waheed Khan, 27, both of Walthamstow, east London.

Also charged are Mohammed Gulzar, 26, of Barking, east London, Ibrahim Savant, 27, of Stoke Newington, north London, and Umar Islam, 30, of Plaistow, east London.

All eight deny two joint charges of conspiring to murder and to endanger aircraft.

The trial continues.

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