Fake Martyrs Say They Created Publicity Stunt for “Maximum Disruption”

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Briton Admits to Plot to Set Off Explosives at Heathrow Airport
by John F. Burns
The New York Times
June 4, 2008

american-airlines-740754-200.jpgLondon “” A British man accused of leading a plot to blow up as many as seven trans-Atlantic airliners on a single day in 2006 said in a London court on Tuesday that he had planned to set off one or two explosive devices at Heathrow Airport, but that he had never intended to place them on aircraft.

The man, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, is one of eight Muslim men on trial on charges of planning suicide attacks on airliners using bombs mixed from household chemicals carried on board. Mr. Ali said the plan had been to “create a disturbance” outside one of the American airlines”™ offices at Heathrow”™s Terminal 3 that would attract “a lot of attention” to Muslim militants”™ opposition to British and American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and to a video documentary his group planned to place on YouTube.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to “commit an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft.” All have denied the accusations. The trial is expected to last eight months.

The men were arrested in a series of police raids in and around London before any attacks were carried out. But the scale of the alleged plot, a year after the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on the London transit system that killed 56 people, including 4 bombers, had a major impact in Britain, prompting a further tightening security at airports and other public buildings.

The repercussions were felt around the world. Police claims that the raids had recovered equipment for making bombs from hydrogen peroxide and other liquids that could be carried aboard a plane disguised as bottled drinks led to a tightening of airport security in many parts of the world, including Europe and the United States.

Mr. Ali, 27, told the court that he had originally planned to use one of the peroxide bombs to attack the House of Commons, but had decided that security was so tight that “we”™d probably get shot,” so he had switched the target to Heathrow. He said the group had planned to leave one or two of the devices with timers that would detonate the explosives after 5 or 10 minutes, to give the plotters time to escape.

“We were trying to create a disturbance, not to kill anyone,” he said.

Mr. Ali admitted that he had researched flight times and destinations of aircraft leaving Terminal 3, but said that his purpose was to determine the times at which the terminal would be busiest, so as to cause “maximum disruption,” not to place the bombs on aircraft. “That was never our intention,” he said. “When we thought about the airport it was the terminal and more specific American offices. We did not even think about boarding a plane.”

In his first day of testimony on Monday, Mr. Ali was questioned about “martyrdom” videotapes made by six of the men now on trial, which prosecutors say were recovered in police raids. In his tape, Mr. Ali warned of attacks that the group planned to launch. “As you kill us, you will be killed,” he said. “As you bomb us, you will be bombed.”

But he told the court that the videos were intended as “propaganda” to attract attention to the group and its planned documentary, not as part of a plot to kill. “We thought we should do a publicity stunt,” he said.

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