Hasan Suroor

  • Targets included the London Underground
  • Multiple bombing operations also planned

    LONDON: Seven members of an alleged "sleeper" al-Qaeda cell, run by an India-born terrorist, were on Friday jailed for up to 26 years for plotting terror attacks that could have killed "thousands" in Britain and America.

    The "cell" was organised by Dhiren Barot, who was born in India but grew up in Britain and later converted to Islam. He was jailed for life in November last for planning carnage on a "colossal and unprecedented scale." He was ordered to serve at least 40 years in jail.

    Of those sentenced on Friday, six admitted to conspiracy to cause explosions and the seventh was held guilty of murder.

    The court was told that their targets included the London Underground, which they planned to blow up. They also planned to use a "dirty radiation bomb" and an explosives-packed limousine as part of multiple bombing operations aimed at causing maximum loss of life.

    The sentences handed down at the Woolwich Crown court ranged from 15 to 26 years.

    The judge, Justice Butterfield, said anyone who participated in such a plot "will receive little sympathy from the courts.''

    He said: "Barot was the instigator of this terrorist planning, he was by some considerable distance the principal participant in the conspiracy. Each one of you was recruited by Barot and assisted him at his request."

    The men were identified as Mohammed Naveed Bhatti (27); Junade Feroze ( 31); Zia Ul Haq (28); Abdul Aziz Jalil (24); Omar Abdur Rehman(23); Nadeem Tarmohamed (29); and Qaisar Shaffi (28).

    Peter Clarke, head of Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism unit, said:

    "Dhiren Barot and his gang were determined terrorists who planned bombings on both sides of the Atlantic. The plans for a series of coordinated attacks in the United Kingdom included packing three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives before setting them off in underground car parks. This could have caused huge loss of life. The plans to set off a dirty bomb in this country would have caused fear, panic and widespread disruption."

    Home Secretary John Reid said the outcome of the trial showed the extent of the "very real and serious threat" Britain faced from terrorists.