- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

LONDON — One of the top al Qaeda operatives known to have been captured in Britain appeared in court amid heavy security yesterday for sentencing in a plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange, the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington and to use a dirty bomb in London.

Dhiren Barot, 34, started plotting six years ago for a “memorable black day for the enemies of Islam,” prosecutor Edmund Lawson said at the hearing, which was punctuated by a dramatic moment when prosecutors showed a March 2001 video shot while Barot was in New York. The camera zooms in to the World Trade Center and a man is then heard mimicking the sound of an explosion.

“This, we have to bear in mind, was five months before 9/11,” Mr. Lawson said.

Flanked by two guards, Barot sat expressionless behind a glass partition as the proceedings began. He pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to commit mass murder in terrorist plots on both sides of the Atlantic. He faces a life sentence.

The criminal plot was to carry out massive explosions in Britain and in the United States, and was meant to kill “hundreds if not thousands of innocent people without warning,” Mr. Lawson said.

Barot planned to cram three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives and detonate them in underground London parking garages, Mr. Lawson said. He also identified London hotels such as the Ritz and the Savoy, and railway stations such as London’s Waterloo, Paddington and King’s Cross as targets. Other attacks in Britain included using a dirty bomb, although experts question whether it would have been lethal.

Mr. Lawson, citing computer files recovered by police, said Barot planned to bomb a subway train as it traveled through a tunnel under the River Thames.

“If a powerful explosion were to rip through here and actually rupture the river itself, this would cause pandemonium … explosions, flooding, drowning,” Barot wrote in the computer documents found, according to Mr. Lawson.

Barot was born a Hindu in India, but was brought to Britain as a toddler. He converted to Islam when he was about 20, Mr. Lawson said.

After leaving his job as an airline-ticket clerk in Britain, he went to Pakistan and attended a terrorist-training camp in the Pakistan-controlled area of Kashmir for at least four months, Mr. Lawson said.

Investigators confiscated Barot’s notes that showed he gained extensive training in the use of weapons, chemicals and bomb design. In 1998, he traveled to Malaysia and in 1999 the Philippines, where he attended the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist-training camp, Mr. Lawson said.

In August 2000 and March 2001, Barot went on two reconnaissance trips to the United States, Mr. Lawson said.

It was this 2001 trip to Manhattan when prosecutors said the video of the World Trade Center was shot.

“It is memorable for its macabre prophecy,” said Mr. Lawson, who said he didn’t think Barot had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks.

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