Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 17:41 UK

Reaction to airline convictions

Three men have been found guilty of plotting to kill thousands of people by blowing up planes over the Atlantic with home-made liquid bombs.

Key figures have been responding to the convictions of Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, for conspiring to activate bombs disguised as drinks.

ALAN JOHNSON, HOME SECRETARY

I am pleased that the jury has recognised that there was a plot to bomb transatlantic flights and that three people have been convicted of that plot.

This case reaffirms that we face a real and serious threat from terrorism. This was a particularly complex and daring plot which would have led to a terrible attack resulting in major loss of life.

The police, security services and CPS have done an excellent job in bringing these people to justice. This was the largest ever counter terrorism operation in the UK and I cannot thank enough those involved for their professionalism and dedication in thwarting this attack and saving thousands of lives.

JOHN MCDOWALL, HEAD OF COUNTER-TERRORISM, METROPOLITAN POLICE

If these terrorists had been successful, many people would have lost their lives. Many more would have died if they had chosen to detonate their bombs over land.

They intended to cause carnage through a series of coordinated and deadly explosions and bring terror into the lives of people around the globe. Apart from massive loss of life, these attacks would have had enormous worldwide economic and political consequences.

But their plans were thwarted by the police and security services before they could commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale. While we successfully disrupted this plot, the public should be in no doubt that the terrorist threat is still with us and that there are individuals in the UK who are determined to attack us. It is vital that we all remain vigilant.

LORD CARLILE, INDEPENDENT REVIEWER OF TERRORISM LAWS

This was a very serious plot. The prosecution in my view, showed great determination and good judgement in deciding to have this retrial. They could all too easily have said they had enough convictions on the previous occasions. But they were right to come to this conclusion that the defendants from previous trials had not been convicted of the essence of what was alleged.

It's an important set of convictions demonstrating that there's a great risk from terrorism, albeit this case is now a little historic.

I think that security measures are now pretty strong in the UK. My observation is that they are far better than in most, if not all, other countries and that enables us to travel safely on aircraft.

BARONESS PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES, FORMER JOINT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN

It's very great reassurance that the Crown has now been able to get convictions on the second part of these crimes, that is to say has got a conviction on the intention to cause explosions on the aeroplanes themselves.

And that's a very important part of what actually happened.

I think one has to ask the question why the Crown didn't get that the first time around. But I am exceedingly pleased.

Your correspondents are quite right to emphasise the immense dimensions of this conspiracy, had it succeeded. Clearly it would have caused a very great loss of life. Of course it would have had immense political repercussions across the Atlantic, between two very close allies.

So the vigilance of our security services and the police have been extremely well rewarded. They have done us a great service.

ALEX BOSS, REPRESENTATIVE FOR DONALD STEWART-WHYTE - CLEARED OF ANY ROLE IN PLOT

Mr Stewart-Whyte is entirely innocent of any involvement in any form of terrorism and he is delighted that the jury came to that conclusion.

Mr Stewart-Whyte was an ordinary 20-year-old student when he was arrested in connection with this case in August 2006.

In the four months that he had been a Muslim he had publicly written and spoken out against terrorism. That did not stop Mr Stewart-Whyte's life being devastated for the next three years when, on the basis of the most spurious evidence, he was made to stand trial for the most serious terrorist conspiracy to commit mass murder.

Mr Stewart-Whyte should never have been charged. We invite the CPS to conduct an independent review into why he was tried when in reality there was only spurious evidence of his guilt and strong evidence of his innocence.

We also invite the CPS to issue a public apology to Mr Stewart-Whyte and his family for the terrible wrongs that have been done to them.

SUE HEMMING, CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE

Three of these men intended to bring down several aircraft in a short space of time, indiscriminately killing hundreds of innocent people, perhaps more if they had succeeded in activating their devices over cities.

This was a calculated and sophisticated plot to create a terrorist event of global proportions.

The men set up a bomb factory to make devices using soft drinks bottles - they emptied the bottles and intended to refill them with explosives. Detonators were being assembled using batteries and the men intended to explode the devices whilst in the air.



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