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Three British Islamists jailed for Al-Qaeda bomb plot

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Three British Muslims were jailed on Friday for planning what a court heard was an Al-Qaeda-backed plot to carry out a string of bombings that they hoped would rival 9/11 and the 2005 London attacks.

Ringleader Irfan Naseer received a life sentence, his right-hand man Irfan Khalid was jailed for 18 years and co-conspirator Ashik Ali was jailed for 15 years by a judge at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London.

Naseer, 31, and Khalid and Ali, both 28, were convicted in February of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, through an Islamist extremist plot to set off eight rucksack bombs in crowded areas and possibly other timed devices.

"Your plot had the blessing of Al-Qaeda and you intended to further the aims of Al-Qaeda," Judge Richard Henriques said as he sentenced the three men.

The group, all from Birmingham in central England, were heavily influenced by the teachings of American-born Al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, police said.

Naseer and Khalid had visited Pakistan to receive terrorism training, while Naseer also helped others to travel to the country for the same purpose, their trial heard.

"Irfan Naseer was the leader, driving force and man in charge and he alone must take responsibility for sending four young men to Pakistan for terrorism training," the judge said, handing Naseer a life sentence with a minimum of 18 years.

Prosecutors said that the attacks planned by the men would have been the deadliest since the July 7, 2005 London bombings, in which 52 people were killed by three Islamist suicide bombers on subway trains and a fourth bomber on a bus.

Khalid meanwhile boasted that the attack would be "another 9/11", the trial heard.

The plot was also the most significant terror plan uncovered in Britain since the 2006 plot to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs in drinks bottles, police said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130426/three-british-islamists-jailed-al-qaeda-bomb-plot