British Bomb Plot Terror Trial

Friday, March 16th 2007, 7:34 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ A jury began deliberations Friday in the case of seven men accused of plotting to set off fertilizer-based bombs at a London nightclub, a shopping mall and other targets in Britain.

The charges stem from police raids in 2004 that seized 1,300 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The prosecution alleges the men were part of a British al-Qaida cell that planned to bomb targets in Britain.

The defendants, who deny all charges, have been on trial at London's Central Criminal Court for nearly a year.

``For many months now, you have been the audience, showing fortitude and patience over this very long time,'' judge Michael Astill told the jury of seven men and five women. ``Now the stage is yours. You are the players, time is yours. You can take any time that is necessary to come to your decisions.''

Prosecutors allege the men plotted to bomb civilian targets including the Bluewater shopping mall near London and a nightclub, as well as to attack gas and electricity supplies.

Police and intelligence agents had the suspects under surveillance for months before their arrest, recording 3,500 hours of audio from bugs in homes and cars. The extensive tapes of their recorded conversations took a month to play in court.

Omar Khyam, 25; his brother Shujah Mahmood, 20; Waheed Mahmood, 34; Jawad Akbar, 23; Salahuddin Amin, 32; Anthony Garcia, 25; and Nabeel Hussain, 21, were charged with conspiring to set off explosions likely to endanger life.

Khyam, Garcia and Hussain were charged under the Terrorism Act with possessing ammonium nitrate fertilizer for terrorism. Khyam and Shujah Mahmood were charged with possessing aluminum powder for the purposes of terrorism.

They face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.