Eleven men from Birmingham were on Friday given long prison sentences for planning a wave of al-Qaeda-inspired suicide bombings which the prosecution claimed would have been more “devastating” than the London terror attack of July 7, 2005.

Plotters were told they would have turned Birmingham into a “little war zone” by setting off up to eight bombs in rucksacks using remote timers.

‘Al-Qaeda-blessed’

“Your plot had the blessing of al-Qaeda and you intended to further the aims of al-Qaeda,” the judge told the plot’s ring-leaders Irfan Naseer (31), Irfan Khalid (28) and Ashik Ali (28) handing down the sentences.

Police claimed it was the most significant terror plot to be uncovered since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs disguised as soft drinks. The court was told that Naseer and Khalid had received training from al-Qaeda contacts in Pakistan and had recorded martyrdom videos there before returning to Britain. Posing as charity workers, they collected thousands of pounds from unsuspecting public.

Naseer was jailed for life and must serve at least 18 years, while Khalid who threatened “another 9/11” was sentenced to 23 years and must spend at least 12 years in jail. Ali was sentenced to 20 years and will serve a minimum 10 years.

Four others — Ishaaq Hussain, Shahid Khan, Naweed Ali and Khobaib Hussain — who travelled to Pakistan for terror training but had second thoughts, were each sentenced to 40 months.

The judge said “many deaths were planned by a determined team of individuals” and that the plot would have gone through had the authorities not intervened.

Singling out Naseer as the brain behind the plot, he said: “Nothing was going to stop you, short of intervention of the authorities. I have no doubt you would have continued with your plan but for that intervention.”

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