London, Sep.8 (ANI): A British court has been told that Al Qaeda terrorists planned to blow up at least 10,000 people, 5000 of them in four hours through a series of co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks on transatlantic airliners in 2006.
With the court convicting three Muslims in connection with the case, the plans are now coming out into the open, The Telegraph reports.
According to the paper, Abdullah Ahmed, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar plotted to cause mass murder by detonating home-made liquid explosives on board at least seven passenger flights bound for the US and Canada.
The plot had the potential to be three times as deadly as the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
The men made suicide videos, and they were bugged by MI5, which revealed how they discussed details of the plot. They were also filmed in their bomb factory in east London where they had practised making bombs from household goods, including soft drink bottles, batteries and disposable cameras.
All three men convicted on Monday had been found guilty at an earlier trial last year of conspiracy to murder, but prosecutors said it was vital to secure a conviction on another charge of conspiring to blow up the aircraft in order to prove that the threat to air traffic was genuine.
Their arrests in 2006 resulted in immediate worldwide restrictions on passengers carrying liquids in their hand luggage.
A ban on containers larger than 100ml is still in place.
When the men were arrested, one of the plotters, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, had a computer memory stick in his pocket which highlighted seven flights from London to six cities in the US and Canada, each carrying between 241 and 286 passengers and crew.
The flights all departed within 2 hours and 35 minutes of each other, to Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, Washington and New York and police believed there would have been no chance of stopping the attacks once all the aircraft were in the air.
Investigators also believed that the men were considering an even larger attack after they were bugged discussing plans for as many as 18 suicide bombers, which could have led to 5,000 deaths in the air and as many again on the ground.
The case has also led to a review of visa restrictions on Britons travelling to the US, and yesterday's convictions, which came during the diplomatic row over the release of the Lockerbie bomber, focused yet more attention in the US on how Britain deals with terrorists.
MI5 believed the plotters were linked to the highest levels of al-Qaeda through a British man called Rashid Rauf, who was also involved in the build-up to the attacks of July 7 and July 21 2005.
The Crown Prosecution Service must now decide whether those men, who were also tried last year, should face a third trial. (ANI)