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More plane terror plots 'likely' More plane terror plots 'likely'
(about 1 hour later)
Al-Qaeda is likely to try again to use aircraft to attack the West, Whitehall officials have told the BBC.Al-Qaeda is likely to try again to use aircraft to attack the West, Whitehall officials have told the BBC.
Security correspondent Frank Gardner said they believed the airline bomb plot was part of al-Qaeda's "obsession" with using commercial airliners.Security correspondent Frank Gardner said they believed the airline bomb plot was part of al-Qaeda's "obsession" with using commercial airliners.
The warning comes after three British men were convicted of conspiring to kill thousands of people on flights from London to North America. The warning comes after three British men were convicted of plotting to blow up flights from London to North America using bombs disguised as soft drinks.
They planned to disguise home-made liquid bombs as ordinary soft drinks. Defence expert Michael Clarke agreed that al-Qaeda was "still plotting".
On Monday, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, were found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court after the UK's largest ever counter-terrorism operation.On Monday, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, were found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court after the UK's largest ever counter-terrorism operation.
Their arrests in 2006 changed the face of air travel, prompting the introduction of restrictions on the carriage of liquids.Their arrests in 2006 changed the face of air travel, prompting the introduction of restrictions on the carriage of liquids.
UK intelligence officers believe the plot was directed by al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan, including a British man - Rashid Rauf - from Birmingham, now thought to be dead.UK intelligence officers believe the plot was directed by al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan, including a British man - Rashid Rauf - from Birmingham, now thought to be dead.
'Close thing''Close thing'
We moved in at the time that we felt that the risks were too great John McDowellMetropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command Liquid bomb plot: What happened Airlines bomb plot: The e-mails Profiles: Airline plot accused
Prof Clarke, director of defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that al-Qaeda was more "marginalised" now than in the past, but still posed a threat to the West.
"There's no doubt there are people in the tribal areas on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan who have tried these plots," he said.
"There were four or five big plots and they've all come to light in the UK. They haven't worked, but they're still plotting."
Earlier, John McDowell, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, said security staff and police were racing against time when they foiled the plot.Earlier, John McDowell, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, said security staff and police were racing against time when they foiled the plot.
They had no alternative but to move in on this plot before all the evidence was as mature as possible Michael ClarkeRoyal United Services Institute Liquid bomb plot: What happened Airlines bomb plot: The e-mails Profiles: Airline plot accused
He told the BBC the arrest of the men was "a relatively close thing".He told the BBC the arrest of the men was "a relatively close thing".
"It's always a balancing act to try to acquire the necessary evidence while at the same time ensuring that public safety is your most important consideration," he said."It's always a balancing act to try to acquire the necessary evidence while at the same time ensuring that public safety is your most important consideration," he said.
"So, we ran this as long as we could run it as a covert, proactive operation and we moved in at the time that we felt that the risks were too great.""So, we ran this as long as we could run it as a covert, proactive operation and we moved in at the time that we felt that the risks were too great."
The operation also had to be speeded up after alleged US pressure led to the arrest of Rauf in 2006.The operation also had to be speeded up after alleged US pressure led to the arrest of Rauf in 2006.
Michael Clarke, director of defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, said he was picked up after the US secretly dispatched an envoy called Jose Rodriguez to Pakistan.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The British were hopping mad about that because it meant... they had no alternative but to move in on this plot before all the evidence was as mature as possible."
Former US security chief Michael Chertoff's reactionFormer US security chief Michael Chertoff's reaction
'Our UK 9/11'
Michael Chertoff, former US Homeland Securities Secretary, said Rauf "was the individual involved in essentially supervising the plot, although he was not someone who was going to take part in the actual attack itself".Michael Chertoff, former US Homeland Securities Secretary, said Rauf "was the individual involved in essentially supervising the plot, although he was not someone who was going to take part in the actual attack itself".
Scotland Yard's former head of specialist operations, Andy Hayman, said securing the arrests from a "standing start" after Rauf's arrest was a "very difficult challenge".Scotland Yard's former head of specialist operations, Andy Hayman, said securing the arrests from a "standing start" after Rauf's arrest was a "very difficult challenge".
He told the BBC: "We couldn't gamble with the prospect that if the cell we were watching was alerted by that arrest, then all the things we'd built up along with other colleagues from the security services would have been lost potentially."He told the BBC: "We couldn't gamble with the prospect that if the cell we were watching was alerted by that arrest, then all the things we'd built up along with other colleagues from the security services would have been lost potentially."
Mr Hayman also said he believed they foiled "our UK 9/11".Mr Hayman also said he believed they foiled "our UK 9/11".
At the time of his arrest, ringleader Ahmed Ali had identified seven US and Canada-bound flights to be blown up over the Atlantic within a two-and-a-half-hour period.At the time of his arrest, ringleader Ahmed Ali had identified seven US and Canada-bound flights to be blown up over the Atlantic within a two-and-a-half-hour period.
In a jihadist suicide video, he warned the British public to expect "floods of martyr operations" which would leave body parts scattered in the streets.In a jihadist suicide video, he warned the British public to expect "floods of martyr operations" which would leave body parts scattered in the streets.

Airline terror plot: The evidence

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar were arrested in August 2006. They were each accused of two charges of conspiracy to murder using home-made explosives.

Airline terror plot: The evidence

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar were arrested in August 2006. They were each accused of two charges of conspiracy to murder using home-made explosives.
All three were found guilty in an earlier trial of conspiracy to murder involving liquid bombs - but that jury could not decide whether their plans extended to detonating the devices on planes.All three were found guilty in an earlier trial of conspiracy to murder involving liquid bombs - but that jury could not decide whether their plans extended to detonating the devices on planes.
Now a second jury has decided that such a terror plot did exist.Now a second jury has decided that such a terror plot did exist.
Arrests took place in police raids across north and east London, triggering a huge airport security crackdown. Other suspects were arrested in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.1. Ali and Sarwar: Guilty of conspiracy to murder using explosives on aircraft 2. Tanvir Hussain: Guilty of conspiracy to murder using explosives on aircraft3. Umar Islam: Guilty of conspiracy to murder4. Arafat Khan: Hung verdict on conspiracy to murder5. Ibrahim Savant: Hung verdict on conspiracy to murder6. Waheed Zaman: Hung verdict on conspiracy to murder
Arrests took place in police raids across north and east London, triggering a huge airport security crackdown. Other suspects were arrested in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.1. Ali and Sarwar: Guilty of conspiracy to murder using explosives on aircraft 2. Tanvir Hussain: Guilty of conspiracy to murder using explosives on aircraft3. Umar Islam: Guilty of conspiracy to murder4. Arafat Khan: Hung verdict on conspiracy to murder5. Ibrahim Savant: Hung verdict on conspiracy to murder6. Waheed Zaman: Hung verdict on conspiracy to murder
Donald Stewart-Whyte (not shown) was cleared of all charges.-->
The prosecution alleged that the three ringleaders planned to explode home-made bombs disguised as soft drinks on seven trans-Atlantic flights from London's Heathrow airport.
  • 1. 1415 UA931 LHR-SAN FRANCISCO (United Airlines)
  • 2. 1500 AC849 LHR-TORONTO (Air Canada)
  • 3. 1515 AC865 LHR-MONTREAL (Air Canada)
  • 4. 1540 UA959 LHR-CHICAGO (United Airlines)
  • 5. 1620 UA925 LHR-WASHINGTON (United Airlines)
  • 6. 1635 AA131 LHR-NEW YORK (American Airlines)
  • 7. 1650 AA91 LHR-CHICAGO (American Airlines)
During their investigation police found equipment that could have been used to make bombs in King's Wood, High Wycombe, and in Forest Road, east London. Assad Sarwar, the quartermaster, bought a suitcase to store bomb parts in the woods near to his home. There, he hid bottles of hydrogen peroxide, also known as hair bleach. This chemical was the key ingredient for the home-made bombs.At the bomb factory in east London, the ringleaders experimented with the design of their devices which were to be disguised as soft drink bottles. The small bombs would then be smuggled in hand luggage through airport security.
The theory of bomb construction is detailed above, but precise details shown to jurors have been omitted.
This video simulates the damage caused by a liquid bomb to a commercial airliner. The BBC used a qualified explosives engineer, Sidney Alford, to construct the devices to demonstrate their likely effect on an aircraft fuselage.
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Donald Stewart-Whyte (not shown) was cleared of all charges.-->
The prosecution alleged that the three ringleaders planned to explode home-made bombs disguised as soft drinks on seven trans-Atlantic flights from London's Heathrow airport.
  • 1. 1415 UA931 LHR-SAN FRANCISCO (United Airlines)
  • 2. 1500 AC849 LHR-TORONTO (Air Canada)
  • 3. 1515 AC865 LHR-MONTREAL (Air Canada)
  • 4. 1540 UA959 LHR-CHICAGO (United Airlines)
  • 5. 1620 UA925 LHR-WASHINGTON (United Airlines)
  • 6. 1635 AA131 LHR-NEW YORK (American Airlines)
  • 7. 1650 AA91 LHR-CHICAGO (American Airlines)
During their investigation police found equipment that could have been used to make bombs in King's Wood, High Wycombe, and in Forest Road, east London. Assad Sarwar, the quartermaster, bought a suitcase to store bomb parts in the woods near to his home. There, he hid bottles of hydrogen peroxide, also known as hair bleach. This chemical was the key ingredient for the home-made bombs.At the bomb factory in east London, the ringleaders experimented with the design of their devices which were to be disguised as soft drink bottles. The small bombs would then be smuggled in hand luggage through airport security.
The theory of bomb construction is detailed above, but precise details shown to jurors have been omitted.
This video simulates the damage caused by a liquid bomb to a commercial airliner. The BBC used a qualified explosives engineer, Sidney Alford, to construct the devices to demonstrate their likely effect on an aircraft fuselage.
BACK{current} of {total}NEXT