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26/11-style plot in London revealed

Four British Asian terror suspects have confessed to plotting a “Mumbai-style” attack in London, after being inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, the al Qaeda leader who was killed in a drone attack last September.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2012 01:02 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Four British Asian terror suspects have confessed to plotting a “Mumbai-style” attack in London, after being inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, the al Qaeda leader who was killed in a drone attack last September.

The terror plot was drawn up on a handwritten list and included the names and addresses of the mayor, two rabbis, the US embassy and the London Eye, as potential targets to attack in the run-up to Christmas 2010. Police said they also planned to bomb the London Stock Exchange.

Mohammed Chowdhury, Shah Rehman and brothers Abdul Miah and Gurukanth Desai — who shares his name with the Bollywood character played by Abhishek Bachchan in the 2007 film Guru — made the admission after a last-minute plea bargain in a court here Wednesday.

They are among nine suspects — of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin — who were arrested on December 30, 2010. All are to be sentenced next week.

On Desai, a police source said, “I wasn’t aware it’s a Bollywood name. He changed his name before our operations began.” Undercover detectives had followed Chowdhury, 21, the group’s alleged lynchpin, and Rahman, his right-hand man, observing Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye and the Houses of Parliament on November 28, 2010 during a massive surveillance operation that eventually led to the arrests.

Chowdhury was nicknamed JMB by his co-defendants - after banned terrorist group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh.

The men, who first met in November 2010, initially claimed their meetings were part of an innocent plan to raise money for an Islamic project in Kashmir. They moved on to testing out bomb recipes, which they called "cooking", the court was told.

The gang planned to imitate Awlaki's mail bombs - instruction for which were published in an al Qaeda magazine - and send them to targets.

At the stock exchange, they planned to plant bombs in the toilets. The prosecution told the court the four men had not intended to maim and kill but to "cause terror and economic harm and disruption".

(With inputs from Guardian News Service)