- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

LONDON (AP) | Three men accused of plotting to bring down trans-Atlantic passenger jets with liquid explosives pleaded guilty to planning to set off bombs but maintain they did not seek to destroy airliners, prosecutors said Monday.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, Assad Sarwar, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 27, and five co-defendants are charged with a plot to kill hundreds of passengers at the height of the summer vacation season by detonating explosives concealed in soft-drink bottles on flights over the Atlantic Ocean or U.S. cities.

The unraveling of the purported plot led to tough new restrictions on the amount of liquids and gels passengers can take in their carry-on bags.

Prosecutors said Ali, Sarwar and Hussain admitted to a charge of conspiring to set off explosions but say they are innocent of the more serious charge of conspiracy to murder.

The eight men are still being tried on the murder conspiracy charge, which carries a maximum life sentence.

Ali and Sarwar have told the court they wanted to set off explosions as a publicity stunt to promote an anti-Western documentary. Ali said he hoped a small, nonfatal, bombing - at Britain’s Houses of Parliament, at an oil refinery or at an airport - would jolt Londoners and draw attention to his movie, which would be released online.

The three men and co-defendants Ibrahim Savant, 27, and Umar Islam, 30, also admitted to “conspiring to cause a public nuisance” by publishing purported martyrdom videos, the prosecution said.

The Crown Prosecution Service did not say when the guilty pleas were entered or what sentences the lesser charges carry. Defense attorneys did not address the jury Monday.

The eight men are accused of stockpiling enough hydrogen peroxide to create 20 liquid bombs, though they did not create any viable explosives.

“We did not want to kill or injure anyone,” Ali testified last month.

Prosecutor Peter Wright scoffed at that idea Monday, calling the defendants’ accounts “inherently improbable.” He said the attacks were imminent when the men were arrested in August 2006 in raids in and around London. The defendants had even prepared the martyrdom videos to be shown after the airline bombings.

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