Eleven men were jailed in Britain on Friday over an
al-Qaeda terrorist plot similar to the attacks on London in 2005 and
the United States in 2001.
Irfan Naseer, the "leader, driving force and man in charge" according to the judge, was handed a life sentence with a minimum of 18 years.
"Your plot had the blessing of al-Qaeda and you intended to further the aims of al-Qaeda," the judge said.
"Many deaths were planned by a determined team of individuals who were fully radicalized and you, Naseer, were their leader," said the judge, describing the 31-year-old as a "skilful bomb-maker."
The group, from Britain's second largest city of Birmingham, had planned to use timers to set off eight rucksacks containing bombs in crowded areas. They had raised money by posing as charity workers.
When they were arrested in September 2011, police said the plot was the biggest to be discovered since 2006, when a conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using explosives disguised as soft drinks was discovered.
In the July 7, 2005 central London attacks, 52 people were killed and more than 700 wounded when suicide bombers targeted three Tube trains and a bus during the morning rush hour.
Irfan Khalid, 28 and Ashik Ali, 28, were sentenced to 23 years and 20 years respectively.
The three were found guilty of planning bombings, collecting money for terrorism and recruiting others for terrorism.
Shahid Khan, 21, Khobaib Hussain, 21, Ishaaq Hussain, 21, and Naweed Ali, 25, who travelled to terrorist training camps in Pakistan and pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts, were each sentenced to 40 months.
Rahin Ahmed, 26, was sentenced to 17 years after pleading guilty to collecting, investing and managing money for terrorism, and assisting others to travel for training in terrorism.
Another three men, including Ashik Ali's older brother, were handed sentences ranging from ten to four years for their part in the plot.
"Our assessment is that it remains unclear as to what their final target was, there was talk of a number of different places," said police spokesman Marcus Beale outside the court.
"They aspired to do more than a 7/7 but they were still a period of time away from refining their bomb-making process," he continued.
Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Ramadhan Foundation, a leading Muslim group, welcomed the sentencings: "These evil men had no regard for human life and the lives of their fellow citizens."
"There is no justification for terrorism in Islam, those engaged in these crimes are not acting in the name of our faith or our community," he said. "Terrorism has no religion and not only should they be shunned, they should be brought to justice."
During the trial of Naseer, Khalid and Ali, some of the evidence presented before the court made them appear unlikely terrorists.
Naseer, an unemployed pharmacy graduate, was nicknamed "Chubbs" because of his weight and described by his mother as a "mummy's boy."
Ali is registered as being partially sighted, while Khalid's father said he had a medical condition that would not have allowed him to take a practical part in carrying out an attack.
Another member of the group, given the task of playing the financial markets in order to increase their funds, lost 3,000 pounds when he left his computer screen for five minutes to boil a kettle.
In total he lost 9,000 of the 14,500 pounds with which he was entrusted. The group then had to apply for loans.
Ali also attempted to burn a note written by Naseer detailing how to make a bomb, but stopped when it produced too much smoke. The note was used as evidence against them.
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