Johnson relieved after transatlantic bomb plot verdict

By Alex Stevenson

Home secretary Alan Johnson struck a relieved note after the convictions of three men over the transatlantic terror plot.

Following the convictions of Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, on the charge of conspiracy to activate bombs disguised as soft drinks, Mr Johnson said the case underlined the threat posed by terrorism.

“I am pleased that the jury has recognised that there was a plot to bomb transatlantic flights and that three people have been convicted of that plot,” Mr Johnson said.

“This case reaffirms that we face a real and serious threat from terrorism.”

Last September Ali, from Walthamstow, north London, Hussain, from Leyton, east London, and Sarwar, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, were all convicted on a lesser charge of conspiracy to cause explosions, but a second jury of nine women and three men today ruled a specific plot did exist.

“I’m certainly gratified the jury has confirmed there was indeed a plot to bring down an aircraft as a means of mass murder,” Tony Blair’s last home secretary John Reid told the BBC.

Ringleader Ali had planned to blow up seven flights during the busy summer holiday season by concealing an explosive mixture inside soft drinks bottles.

They would have been triggered by detonators hidden in disposable cameras.

Following the uncovering of allegations about the plot, whose truth had not been established by the original jury, the government introduced a raft of security restrictions at UK airports, including a ban on taking liquids into cabins.

“The police, security services and crown prosecution service have done an excellent job in bringing these people to justice,” Mr Johnson added.

“This was the largest ever counter terrorism operation in the UK and I cannot thank enough those involved for their professionalism and dedication in thwarting this attack and saving thousands of lives.”