- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

1:08 p.m.

LONDON — A judge today sentenced five men to life in prison for plotting to attack targets in London, including a popular nightclub, power plants and a shopping mall, with bombs made from a half-ton stockpile of fertilizer.

The trial for the first time exposed connections between the defendants and the deadly 2005 al Qaeda-linked attack on the city’s transit system.

Details kept secret to ensure a fair trial also showed that counterterrorism agents tracking the five men had stumbled onto the transit plotters. Despite disturbing signs that the transit plot was in the works, the agents failed to piece them together in time to prevent the July 7, 2005, bombings that killed 52 persons, testimony and official briefings during the trial showed.

The revelations are at odds with statements by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government after the 2005 attack. Senior government ministers, who a month earlier had lowered the country’s alert status, said the 2005 attack was unexpected and the perpetrators unknown.

Omar Khyam was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions made from a chemical fertilizer that could endanger life. Also found guilty were Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar, Waheed Mahmood and Alahuddin Amin.

“All of you may never be released. It’s not a foregone conclusion,” Judge Michael Astill told them.

Two others, Nabeel Hussain and Shujah Mahmood, were cleared of conspiracy to cause explosions. All were arrested on March 30, 2004.

The jury that convicted the five men deliberated for nearly a month after nearly a year of testimony in Britain’s longest terror trial. The men, all British citizens, were accused of plotting a series of attacks using more than 1,300 pounds of fertilizer they had placed in a storage unit.

Court-imposed restrictions prohibited reporters from revealing links between the men and the four 2005 suicide transit bombers until the case ended.

Counterterrorism officials acknowledged that intelligence that could have raised alarms before the July 7 transit attacks was not investigated thoroughly, explaining they were overwhelmed by seemingly more urgent threats.

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