- Associated Press - Monday, February 28, 2011

LONDON (AP) — A jury on Monday convicted a former British Airways computer specialist of plotting with U.S.-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to blow up an airplane.

Rajib Karim, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi man, was convicted of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks. He already had pleaded guilty to other, lesser terrorism offenses.

Prosecutors said he used his position at the airline to plot an attack with Mr. al-Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with al Qaeda thought to be hiding in Yemen.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the court that Karim “sought work in this country of the sort which would be useful to him or a terrorist organization in planning an attack — an attack of the sort which might result in the wholesale loss of life.”

Prosecutors said that in heavily encrypted exchanges, Mr. al-Awlaki quizzed Karim about details of security flaws and urged the aspiring terrorist to train as a flight attendant to assist plans to use suicide bombers or mail bombs to down U.S.-bound flights.

“Our highest priority is in the U.S.,” Mr. al-Awlaki told Karim in an encrypted message, thought by police to have been sent in February 2010. “The question is, with the people you have, is it possible to get a package, or a person with a package, onboard a flight heading to the U.S.?”

The cleric told Karim he hoped he would be able to supply “critical and urgent information” related to airline security because of his role at BA.

Karim, who was arrested at his desk in the northern English city of Newcastle in February 2010, was convicted after a trial at Woolwich Crown Court in London.

He is due to be sentenced on March 18.

Karim, who moved to Britain in 2006 and joined BA the following year, admitted helping make a video about an organization called Jamaat-Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh because he believed it had been misrepresented as a terrorist organization.

He pleaded guilty to helping produce a terrorist group’s video, fundraising and volunteering for terror abroad — but insisted he never planned an attack in Britain.


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