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Martyrdom videos promised revenge over Iraq

/ Source: The Associated Press

In chilling videos shown to a jury Friday, defendants accused of plotting to bring down jetliners over the Atlantic called for revenge for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and praised al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden.

Most of the Britons charged in the alleged plot videotaped messages denouncing the West for what they said was its suppression of Muslims, prosecutor Peter Wright said as he outlined his case to jurors at a London court.

Eight men are accused of plotting to blow up at least seven jetliners bound for the United States and Canada in 2006.

Some of the group were heard on secret police audio bugs discussing plans to take their wives and young children on the suicide missions, Wright said.

'As you bomb ...'
Wright showed a jury clips of videotapes the men recorded for distribution after their attacks. Each man wore a black and white checkered headscarf and sat alone in front of a black flag inscribed with a message in Arabic.

"I say to the nonbelievers, as you bomb, you will be bombed. As you kill, you will be killed," said Umar Islam, 29, as he angrily wagged a finger at the camera, denouncing the U.S. and Britain for their military role in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

Another defendant, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, predicted waves of new attacks on the United States and Britain.

"We will take our revenge and anger, ripping amongst your people and scattering the people ... decorating the streets," he said in a video.

Islam lambasted the British public, saying they deserved to suffer because they cared more about sports and television soap operas than the plight of Muslims.

"Most of them are too busy watching 'Home And Away' and 'EastEnders,' complaining about the World Cup, drinking your alcohol, to care about anything," he said.

All but two of the suspects recorded videotapes and "all expressed similar chilling sentiment in their respective videos," Wright said.

1,500 people could have been aboard
Prosecutors calculated about 1,500 people on board the passenger jets — and potentially scores more on the ground if the planes exploded over cities — could have been killed if the planned coordinated attacks had been carried out.

Major disruption was caused to British airports and hundreds of flights were grounded when police arrested the suspects in August 2006. Airlines quickly imposed tough new limits on the amount of liquids and gels — and types of carry-on luggage — passengers can take on flights.

Wright told the jury Thursday that the group had expressed hopes of recruiting as many as 18 suicide bombers.

Seven specific flights from London's Heathrow airport to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Toronto and Montreal had been singled out for attack, but no specific date selected, Wright said.

The cell planned to strike all seven in a single afternoon in late 2006.

Explosive drink bottles
Soft drinks bottles injected with hydrogen peroxide-based explosives were to be smuggled on board and improvised bombs assembled in jetliner toilets, Wright said.

He said the group had purchased a vacant flat in a London row house and used it as a bomb factory and collected large quantities of hydrogen peroxide for use as explosives.

Wright acknowledged the men had not been able to assemble a viable bomb, but he insisted they were close to achieving success.

He showed a jury a video of an experiment by government scientists using the same ingredients to create working devices. Thick panels of reinforced glass shattered as the bomb exploded, spraying shrapnel across a laboratory.

In a pressurized airliner cabin at 30,000 feet, the same explosion would have caused a "devastating and lethal effect," Wright said.

All eight men deny charges of conspiracy to murder and a charge of planning an act of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft. Both offenses carry maximum sentences of life imprisonment.

In addition to Islam and Ali, the defendants are Arafat Waheed Khan, 26; Tanvir Hussain, 27; Mohammed Gulzar, 26; Ibrahim Savant, 27; Waheed Zaman, 23, and Assad Sarwar, 27.