Three British Muslim men found guilty today for their plans to carry out mass bombing attacks. The three men — Irfan Khalid, 27, Irfan Naseer, 31, and Ashik Ali, 27 — aimed to carry out their terrorist acts in various crowded areas of the UK.
Here’s what you should know about this thwarted terrorist scheme and its main players.
1. All Three Men Wanted Their Attacks to be Bigger than 2005’s London Bombings
These three British Muslim terrorists were the central figures in a plot to carry out suicide bombings in the UK. They planned to use knapsack bombs and detonate them in various unidentified areas. Special prosecutor Karen Jones stated that the men’s intended targets had not been set before they were apprehended. It was revealed that the men were hoping to initiate terrorist attacks that were on a larger scale than the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. Those attacks, which targeted London’s public transportation system, ended up taking the lives of 52 people and killing more than 700. Judge Richard Henriques spoke directly to the trio after the jury found them guilty:
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. It’s clear that you were planning a terrorist outrage in Birmingham.
2. They Received al-Qaida Training
At the court hearings for the trio, the jury heard that all three men traveled to Pakistan to receive terrorist training. While there, they reportedly recorded suicide videos in preparation for their future attacks. The videos have not been recovered yet. They also practiced firing weapons, putting together explosives and hiding from U.S. drone attacks. Once they returned home to Birmingham, UK, they collaborated with another man named Rahin Ahmed, 25, in order to plan out their attacks. Ahmad was accused of funding terrorism acts and assisting others in traveling to Pakistan for terrorism training.
3. They Sent Four Other Men to Pakistan for Terrorist Training
BBC noted that Irfan Naseer played a key part in sending four other men from the Birmingham area to Pakistan for terrorism training. The four men — Ishaaq Hussain, 21, Shahid Khan, 21, Naweed Ali, 25, and Khobaib Hussain, 22 — have all pleaded guilty to preparing for acts of terrorism.
4. They Raised Cash through Bogus Charity Fundraising
ITV reported that the three men, along with other suspected terrorists, raised the money for their plot through bogus fundraising efforts. In 2011, they traveled the streets of Birmingham with Muslim Aid charity buckets. During the month of Ramadan back in 2009, they gained more than £13,000 in total. Muslim Aid spoke to The Independent and stated that the organisation had no knowledge of the men using their organization for terrorism funding:
We would like to reiterate that Muslim Aid is a victim of this fraudulent activity.
Rahin Ahmed, who has already pleaded guilty to helping fund the plot, once worked as a volunteer for the Muslim Aid.
5. They Wanted to Attack British Soldiers and Poison People with Hand Cream
Ashik Ali told police that they even considered carrying out attacks against British soldiers. Another plot was also discovered — the trio planned to mix poison with hand cream, then proceed to smear it on several car doors in order to cause a mass killing.
6. They Were Inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki
News.com.AU reported that the jury at the Woolwich Crown court learned that the trio were senior members of a home-grown terrorist cell. This group was said to be inspired by the anti-Western sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone attack in Yemen around September 2011.
7. They Were All Found Guilty
The three men were found guilty today of 12 counts of preparing for acts of terrorism between December 2010 and their arrest in September 2011. Once the trio began constructing homemade bombs, the authorities decided to take them into custody after watching them via surveillance. It was revealed that Irfan Naseer was a trained chemist, which explained his knowledge of putting together explosive devices.
8. They Were Under Surveillance During Their Entire Operation
Once all three men returned from their training in Pakistan, they were immediately under surveillance by UK authorities. Secret recordings of Naseer talking about terrorism and bomb making were discovered through these surveillance tactics. Authorities also discovered the location of the four men sent for terrorism training and Rahin Amhed’s online stock trading practices. West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale spoke to The Independent about the severity this situation presented:
No one should underestimate the seriousness of what these men were plotting. We had got them under close surveillance, which meant we were able to intervene at an early stage before there was any serious risk to public safety. But had they been able to continue with their plans, the consequences could have been worse than the London bombings of 2005.
9. They Will All Face Life in Prison
All three men were told by Judge Richard Henriques that they will all face life in prison for being found guilty of their terrorist schemes. The sentences for each man will be handed out in April or May of this year.
10. Ali’s Ex-Wife Knew About Her Husband’s Terror Plot
Sky News reported that Ashik Ali’s estranged wife, Salma Kabal, 23, was accused of knowing about her husband’s terrorist intentions and fialing to disclose them to police. She will be tried for her crimes at a later date,