LONDON — Three men were found guilty Thursday of planning a “spectacular bombing campaign” in the UK, including an attack on a synagogue.
Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, wanted to carry out “another 9/11” by using eight suicide bombers armed with guns and explosives-filled rucksacks to target “crowded places” in their native city of Birmingham, Woolwich Crown Court found.
The trio had not decided on a specific target, but in conversations secretly recorded by police, Naseer said that even if the group could not make a bomb, it could “get guns, yeah, from the black geezers, Africans, and charge in some like synagogue or charge in different places.”
Two of the men, Naseer and Khalid, traveled to Pakistan twice for training, including a two-month stint at an al-Qaeda facility. They recorded martyrdom videos before returning to the UK in 2011, where they recruited Ali and experimented together in building bombs.
Naseer also helped send four other men to Pakistan for training, and recruited two others for his own plot. All six have already pleaded guilty to related terrorism charges.
In addition to 12 counts of preparing acts of terrorism between December 2010 and September 2011, Naseer, Khalid and Ali were convicted of raising money for terrorism and recruiting others for a terror act.
The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain, welcomed the guilty verdict, but said the plot “is yet another disturbing example of would-be anti-Semitic terrorism here in Britain. This is the third recent case in which terrorists have contemplated British Jews amongst other UK targets, the others being an al-Qaeda plot of 2011 and the Stock Exchange plot of 2010.
“Worse still, it follows last year’s Khans case, in which a married couple solely targeted the Jewish community of North Manchester.”
“In Britain, terrorism threatens all of society. We are all at equal risk when using public places, such as transport hubs or famous buildings, but these cases demonstrate that British Jews face an additional level of threat, due to the sheer number of terrorists who regard Jews as amongst the priority targets for their actions.”
Sentencing will take place in April or May. The judge, Mr. Justice Henriques, has already warned the men they face life in prison.