Three British men were found guilty of planning a U.K. terror attack meant to be more devastating than the 2005 bombings of London buses and trains, which they tried to fund by posing as charity workers and trading currency.
Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were found guilty today of 12 terror-related offenses between Dec. 25, 2010, and Sept. 19, 2011, by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court.
The men, who planned attacks with eight backpack bombs to destroy multiple targets, traveled to Pakistan and recorded suicide videos before their arrest in September 2011, prosecution lawyers said in documents for the trial.
The trio posed as workers for the Muslim Aid charity collecting money on the streets of Birmingham to fund the attack, Brian Altman, the prosecuting lawyer, said in court filings. The men then bet around 14,500 pounds ($22,100) on foreign exchange trades in an effort to increase the funds available for the attack, according to prosecutors. They eventually lost more than 9,000 pounds.
The men “abused the name of Muslim Aid without our knowledge,” the charity said in a press release. “We would like to reiterate that Muslim Aid is a victim of this fraudulent activity.”
All three men, from Birmingham in northern England, were described as being central figures in the plot that resulted in 11 men and one woman being arrested in 2011. Judge Richard Henriques told them to expect life sentences in court today, police said. The trial lasted four months and no sentencing hearing has been scheduled.
“No one should underestimate the seriousness of what these men were plotting,” Marcus Beale, of the West Midlands Police, said in an e-mailed statement.
The surveillance operation, according to police the largest U.K. terrorist investigation since 2006, secretly recorded conversations in which the men said the attack would be “another 9/11,” as “revenge for everything,” prosecutors said in court documents.
“We were able to intervene at an early stage before there was any serious risk to public safety,” Beale said. “But, had they been able to continue with their plans, the consequences could have been worse than the London bombings of 2005.”
The men were also caught comparing themselves to characters from the “Four Lions,” a British satirical film released in 2010 which follows the escapades of four would-be terrorists in northern England.
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