The group recorded martyrdom videos at a flat in Walthamstow, east London.
Abdulla Ahmed Ali singled out seven flights to San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Washington, New York and Chicago that departed within two-and-a-half hours of each other.
If successful, the explosions could have exceeded the carnage of the September 11 attacks, his trial heard.
He was sentenced to life.
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Essex Police has become one of only four forces to use polygraph testing to help manage the risk posed by convicted sex offenders.
Two members of the public were injured along with two police officers who were in the unmarked vehicle.
Scotland Yard recorded 1,235 Islamophobic attacks in the last 12 months, compared with 811 in 2015.