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Five British Men Sentenced to Life in Prison in Terror Plot


Five British men have been sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in an al-Qaida inspired plot to carry out bomb attacks across Britain. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London on the outcome of the trial that has lasted for more than a year.

The judge pronounced sentencing just hours after a jury found five men guilty of plotting to set off fertilizer bombs at major public sites in London and elsewhere in Britain. Two other men were acquitted.

Ringleader Omar Khayam was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the plot. The judge also handed down life terms for Waheed Mahmood, Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar and Alahuddin Amin.

The five men were arrested in March 2004 during a major police operation and after extensive surveillance by police and security services.

Prosecutors presented evidence that the men planned to use 600 kilograms of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to make explosives with the aim of attacking a London nightclub, power plants, and a shopping mall.

"For more than three years, we and the police counter-terrorism command worked exhaustively in cooperation with security and intelligence agencies and international colleagues to present this case," said state prosecutor Deborah Walsh.

In the end, the prosecution presented almost 12,000 pages of exhibits. The jury saw and listened to video and audio evidence and heard testimony from numerous witnesses, including U.S.-Islamic militant Mohammad Babar.

Evidence presented at the trial linked members of the group to contacts in Pakistan, training camps in Afghanistan and to meetings with al Qaida members.

"Five dangerous terrorists are now behind bars due to the efforts of our security services and our police." said British Home Secretary John Reid. "I want to extend my thanks to them and I believe the gratitude of everyone in this country for the work that they have done."

Reid said the case is a reminder that the terrorism threat is real and severe.

Evidence presented at the trial also showed links between the convicted men and at least two of the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks against London's public transit system on July 7, 2005.

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