Britain details broad terror plot

Muslim convert could get life term

November 07, 2006|By Kim Murphy | Kim Murphy,LOS ANGELES TIMES

LONDON -- A former British airline ticket agent who plotted to blow up the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. targets once urged Muslims living in the West to carrying out attacks on the economies of "all interfering nations," prosecutors said yesterday.

Dhiren Barot, a 34-year-old Muslim convert who faces a possible life sentence after pleading guilty to one count of murder conspiracy, called for "destabilizing" attacks on Western targets and said they could best be carried out by Muslim residents, prosecutor Edmund Lawson told the court.

"The indigenous believers that reside in these meddling countries, however, can only do this. For it is they, the locals, and not the foreigners, who understand the culture, area and common practices of the enemy whom they coexist amongst," prosecutors read from Barot's book, The Army of Madinah in Kashmir, published under the pseudonym Esa al-Hindi in 1999.

Yesterday's hearing in London provided the first detailed look at a plot that authorities said was aimed at drafting British Muslims to organize terrorist attacks on financial targets in New York, New Jersey and Washington. The plotters also hoped to detonate gas-cylinder-laden limousines in underground garages in Britain.

The prosecution's case revealed a group that pondered the effects of various poisons, how to explode a radioactive "dirty bomb" without killing the attacker before he could deliver the charge, where a bridge needed to be hit to bring it down and whether it would be possible to blow up a subway under the Thames.

"Imagine the chaos that would be caused if a powerful explosion were to rip through here and actually rupture the river itself," Barot wrote in one of the documents seized after his arrest. "This would cause pandemonium, what with the explosions, flooding, drowning etc. that would occur."

Barot sought to emulate the Madrid train bombings in 2004, and envisioned what he described as a coordinated series of attacks "forming another memorable black day for the enemies of Islam."

Seven co-defendants who face trial in April were allegedly working under Barot's leadership in a plot Lawson said was "designed to strike at the very heart of both America and this country and to cause the loss of human life on a massive scale."

Prosecutors said Barot and his self-described "sleeper cell" prepared a professionally styled prospectus analyzing the prospects and methods for destroying four proposed U.S. targets, including the stock exchange and Citigroup headquarters in New York, the Prudential building in New Jersey and the International Monetary Fund building in Washington.

Kim Murphy writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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