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Plot to bomb 7 planes revealed

Eight British men planned to detonate homemade bombs aboard at least seven airliners bound for the US and Canada, hoping to kill hundreds in a mammoth terror attack.

world Updated: Apr 05, 2008 04:24 IST

"Eight British men planned to detonate homemade bombs aboard at least seven airliners bound for the US and Canada, hoping to kill hundreds in a mammoth terror attack," prosecutors said as the their trial opened.

Prosecutor Peter Wright was outlining more details on Friday as he explained details of the plan to launch coordinated strikes on United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada flights in 2006. "Seven specific flights from London’s Heathrow airport to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Toronto and Montreal had been singled out for attack and data on the routes stored on a computer memory stick," Wright said.

He said that the seven targeted flights would have all departed from London within a window of three hours and would have been in mid-air simultaneously.

Each would have held between 240 and 285 people, meaning around 1,500 people could have been killed if the attacks had been carried out as planned.

"But the group expressed hopes of recruiting as many as 18 suicide bombers," Wright said.

Plotters hoped to smuggle hydrogen peroxide-based explosives on board, disguised as soft drinks or mouthwash. "The improvised bombs would then be assembled and detonated in mid-flight," he said. “They are men with the cold-eyed certainty of the fanatic,” said Wright, telling the jury the men are Muslim extremists. “The plan was designed to bring about what would have been a civilian death toll on an almost unprecedented scale.”

Airlines imposed tough new limits on the amount of liquids and gels passengers can carry on to flights as a result of the alleged plot.

After rounding up the men in August 2006, police found a PC data stick which stored data on the seven airliner services from London. Also logged were details of flights to Boston, Denver and Miami.