Life in jail for ‘terrorist’

Dhiren Barot, 34, planned synchronised attacks in the two countries, including a so-called “dirty bomb” and a blast on London subway train under the River Thames, a court heard.

The Londoner, believed to have links to Osama bin Laden’s Al- Qaeda network, plotted to create “massive explosions” by packing limousines with explosives and parking them beneath or near buildings including hotels.

British security agencies believe he is one of the most senior ‘terrorists’ they have ever snared. He was plotting before the September 2001 attacks on the United States.

Peter Clarke, the head of the Metropolitan Police’s anti-terrorist branch branded Barot a “determined and experienced terrorist”.

“He went to terrorist training camps in 1995, long before 9/11 or the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq. He is not someone who has recently been attracted to the terrorist cause,” Mr Clarke said after the sentencing.

“He is a full-time terrorist. His training showed through. He used anti-surveillance coded messages in secret meetings, but he could not evade capture.”

No noble cause

“This was no noble cause,” Judge Alexander Butterfield told Barot, handing down his judgment at Woolwich Crown Court in London.

“Your plans were to bring indiscriminate carnage, bloodshed and butchery first in Washington, New York and Newark, and thereafter the UK on a colossal and unprecedented scale.

Barot, wearing a wooly jumper, appeared distracted as the judge gave his verdict and was escorted by several police officers from the enclosed glass dock.

He pleaded guilty last month to plotting the deadly bombings, saying he planned a “black day for the enemies of Islam and a victory for the Muslims”.

Arrested in 2004, he is also wanted in the United States on charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction there and in Yemen.

Prosecutor Edmund Lawson said the dirty bomb plan and three other projects were designed to be executed in a “synchronised, concurrent and back-to-back” attack with the limousine plot.

Barot wanted to blow up a London Underground train while it was beneath the Thames, potentially blowing a hole in the river bed, flooding the rail network and drowning commuters.

His defence lawyers argued that the conspiracy was unsuccessful and there was no evidence of equipment or finance having been received.

In the United States he planned to target the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, as well as the New York Stock Exchange, the Citigroup headquarters and the Prudential building in Newark, New Jersey.

Barot visited New York to research and film his targets and even took a tourist helicopter flight over Manhattan, taking reconnaissance photographs.

Real and serious threat

British Home Secretary John Reid said the nature and severity of Barot’s sentence showed that “the terrorist threat remains very real and serious”.

The case “shows the importance of ensuring that the police are provided with all the tools they need to counter the continuing threat,” he added.

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman said the British leader welcomed the fact that a threat to national security had been dealt with.

Barot converted from Hinduism in his 20s before being radicalised by extremist lectures and literature and while travelling notably to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Philippines, where prosecutors said he had terror training.