Their plot was undone by mishaps with money and logistics in 2011

Three young British Muslims were convicted on Thursday of plotting terrorist bombings that prosecutors said were intended to be bigger than the 2005 London transit attacks.

A London jury found Irfan Naseer (31) and Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, both 27, guilty of being central figures in the plot to explode knapsack bombs in crowded areas, potentially deadlier than the July 7, 2005 explosions on subway trains and a bus which killed 52 commuters.

Judge Richard Henriques told the men who had been arrested in September 2011 they would all face life in prison when sentences are imposed in April or May for plotting the attack in Birmingham, a city of roughly 1 million people located nearly 200 km northwest of London.

“You were seeking to recruit a team of somewhere between six and eight suicide bombers to carry out a spectacular bombing campaign, one which would create an anniversary along the lines of 7/7 or 9/11,” he told them after the jury reached its verdict. “It’s clear that you were planning a terrorist outrage in Birmingham.”

Prosecutors said the men, fired up by the sermons of a U.S.-born al-Qaeda preacher, hoped to cause carnage on a massive scale. Their plot was undone by mishaps with money and logistics, and ended in a police counterterrorism swoop in 2011.

By then, the plotters were still experimenting with chemicals and had not assembled any bombs.

Training in Pakistan

Prosecutor Karen Jones said the targets had not been set, but that their potential for killing people and destroying property should not be underestimated. She said two of the men had received training in Pakistan before returning to Britain. “Had they not been stopped, the consequences would have been catastrophic.”

More In: World | International | News