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  1. ITV Report

Trio facing life in prison over terror bomb plot

Three men are facing life in prison after being found guilty of terror plot to detonate up to eight suicide bombs and possibly other devices on timers.

Woolwich Crown Court heard Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were the "central figures" in an extremist plan, which could have been bigger than the July 7 atrocities.

(Left to right) Ashik Ali, Irfan Khalid and Irfan Naseer found guilty of being "central figures" in a terrorist bomb plot.

Police believe it was the most significant terror plot to be uncovered since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic liners using bombs disguised as soft drinks. Khalid even boasted that the attack was "another 9/11".

But their plot was foiled by a police surveillance operation, which tracked their movements and even their conversations as their plans progressed.

West Midlands Police undated handout photo of Irfan Nasser, Rahin Ahmed and Irfan Khalid at Birmingham Airport. Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

After the trio were found guilty today, Mr Justice Henriques said that they will all face life in prison when they are sentenced in April or May.

Speaking to Naseer, he said:

You are a highly skilled bomb maker and explosives expert. You sought to persuade others that a terror plot here in this country was by far preferable to fighting jihad abroad.

The scale and extent of your ambition was similarly manifest. You were seeking to recruit a team of somewhere between six and eight suicide bombers to carry out a spectacular bombing campaign, one which would create an anniversary along the lines of 7/7 or 9/11.

West Midlands Police undated handout photo of Khobaib Hussain and Naweed Ali at Birmingham Airport. Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

The judge told Khalid he was "virtually inseparable" from Naseer. "You were very much his confidant and his right-hand man."

He said to Ali:

I had mistakenly formed the view that you were a rather foolish recruit to this terrorist cell and rather less dangerous than your co-accused.

You have dissuaded me from that view. You are intelligent, devious and highly manipulative.

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:

Naseer was found guilty of five counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, Khalid four, and Ali three, all between Christmas Day 2010 and September 19 2011.

For Nasser, from Sparkhill, Khalid, from Sparkbrook, and Ali, from Balsall Heath, this included planning a bombing campaign, collecting money for terrorism and recruiting others for terrorism.

Nasser and Khalid were also found guilty of travelling to Pakistan for training in terrorism, and Naseer was found to have helped others travel to the country for the same purpose.

West Midlands Police undated handout photo of Irfan Nasser, Rahin Ahmed and Irfan Khalid at Birmingham Airport. Credit: West Midlands Police/ PA Wire

The group tried to fund their plot by posing as Muslim Aid charity street collectors, duping legitimate supporters into giving them money.

They raised £12,000 for themselves in this way, but were forced to apply for tens of thousands of pounds in loans after losing more than £9,000 of the money playing foreign currency markets.

Today the charity said it had been "a victim of fraudulent activity", and had improved the security of its street collections.

Nine men have now been convicted for planning the UK's largest terror attack.

Six other men, who are also from Birmingham, have admitted terror offences in relation to the plot.

They are Rahin Ahmed 26, from Moseley; Mujahid Hussain, 21, from Yardley; Naweed Ali, 25, Ishaaq Hussain, 21, Khobaib Hussain, 22, and Shahid Khan, 21, all from Sparkhill.

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