A gang of alleged British Muslim fanatics plotted to cause “carnage on an almost unprecedented scale” with simultaneous suicide bombings on up to 18 transatlantic airliners, a court has heard.
Bombs made from hydrogen peroxide liquid explosives, and disguised as soft drinks including Lucozade and Oasis, were to be taken on board and detonated mid-flight, causing thousands of deaths “in the name of Islam”, it is alleged.
If the alleged plan had been carried out, it could have led to the worst terrorist atrocity since the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001.
It was as a result of the alleged plot being uncovered 18 months ago that authorities tightened security at airports in the UK, banning people carrying liquids on to planes.
The long awaited trial started today amid high security at Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London.
Jurors were told that the accused were only interested in one way flights from Heathrow airport and possible target cities included New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Miami and San Francisco, as well as Montreal and Toronto in Canada.
They aimed to inflict “heavy casualties” on an “unwitting civilian population”, jurors were told.
The result would have had a “violent and deadly, global impact”, the court heard.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, in his opening speech, said that the men had planned to smuggle liquid explosives – disguised in drinks bottles – aboard selected flights in the summer of 2006.
The men and others were prepared to board the aircraft carrying their “deadly cargo” and detonate it in flight, he said.
“They are men with the cold-eyed certainty of the fanatic, prepared to board an aircraft with the ingredients to construct and detonate a device to bring about the loss not only of their own life but all those around them.”
Mr Wright claimed the alleged plot was foiled when police arrested two men in east London in August, 2006.
“The disaster they contemplated was not long off,” he said.
The court was told that intelligence suggested the alleged plotters may have recruited as many as 18 suicide bombers, who would have set off on flights from several Heathrow terminals at once.
I will also be very clear in my own mind that, when Al Qaeda’s number two assures the West that Al Qaeda would never harm “innocent” people, he defines “innocent” in a very narrow sense to mean himself, and maybe a good friend. Everyone else, especially everyone who is not a fanatic Muslim, does not fall within that category and is, accordingly, fair game.