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article imageFour UK men plead guilty to plan to bomb London Stock Exchange

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 1, 2012 in World
London - Four men have admitted to an Al-Qaeda inspired conspiracy to bomb the London Stock Exchange. The men, from London and Cardiff, were arrested in December 2010 and are standing trial at the Woolwich Crown Court.
According to BBC, four British nationals, Mohammed Chowdry, Shah Rahman, Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah, have pleaded guilty to "engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism." According to The New York Times, five other men, who also are British nationals, have pleaded guilty to wider terrorism offences and all nine will be sentenced this week.
The men, according to Al Jazeera, are not members of Al Quaeda but were inspired by sermons of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born, Yemen-based militant who was recently killed by a U.S. drone attack.
BBC reports two of the men discussed plans with others to blow up the London Stock Exchange and cause damage to the economy. Some of the men suggested putting bombs in the post or hiding a bomb in a toy doll. They also considered planting bombs in pub toilets, and warned each other to look out for bugs planted in their cars. To avoid possible surveillance, the men met in lonely outdoor places such as country parks. They were in touch with each other on Internet and mobile phones. But unknown to the men, they were under close surveillance by undercover anti-terror police agents and were arrested before they could take a decision on a final date for the attacks.
The New York Times reports the prosecution said the men were found in possession of an Al Qaeda magazine with an article, “Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom."
According to the BBC, a handwritten list of targets was discovered at the home of one of the men. The list contained the names and addresses of the London mayor Boris Johnson, two rabbis, the U.S. embassy and the London Stock Exchange.
The court was told that Chowdry, 21, of Stanliff House, Tower Hamlets, and an accomplice Rahman, 28, of St. Bernard's Road Newham, were trailed by undercover agents on 28 November 2010. The men were apparently looking over potential targets. They visited the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Palace of Westminster. The men confessed they were preparing plans to plant an explosive device in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange.
The Conspiracy
According to the BBC, the conspiracy was six weeks old before the men were arrested. During the period, the men met in Roath Park, Cardiff, on November 7, 2010. Chowdry, Rahman, Miah and Desai met in London to discuss targets and means on November 28, 2010. Another group meeting was held on December 12, 2010 at Cwmcarn County Park, near Cearphilly, to discuss plans to blow up the Stock Exchange, and on December 20, police arrested the men.
Al Jazeera reports Chowdry was identified as the "lynch pin" of the plot. His lawyer Christopher Blaxland, said Chowdry admitted to a plan to plant a bomb in the toilet of the London Stock Exchange, "with the obvious attendant risk but without any intention to cause death or even injury but with the intention to terrorise, damage property and to cause economic damage."
Pleading guilty
The men, according to BBC, admitted to the charges after they were told they would receive lighter sentences if they pleaded guilty. According to The New York Times, the men had planned to plead innocent but changed their pleas to guilty after the judge warned them of heavy sentences if the case went to a prolonged trial.
After the men admitted to the charges, the senior national coordinator of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism team, said: "We welcome the guilty pleas entered by all nine defendants today, following what was the largest counter terrorism operation of 2010. The investigation was coordinated by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, working in close partnership with the national CT network, Staffordshire, South Wales and Metropolitan Police, the Security Service and Crown Prosecution Service. Our priority is, and always will be, the protection of the public."
Bob Quick, senior anti-terrorism police officer, said: "It serves to remind us that there are still people out there in the country that are prepared to contemplate, conspire and even perpetrate serious acts of terrorism."
The New York Times reports the arrests are widely seen as a triumph of the elaborate electronic surveillance techniques deployed by the security agencies in the country. According to The New York Times, most of Britain's covert electronic listening, code-breaking and surveillance is conducted by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), run in close collaboration with the National Security Agency of the U.S.
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