Jury selection begins in airliner bomb-plot trial
By David Stringer
LONDON — Jury selection began Wednesday for the trial of eight British men accused of planning to bomb airliners bound for the United States and Canada in order to kill hundreds of passengers in a major terrorism plot.
Prosecutors allege the group planned a series of coordinated suicide attacks in 2006, hoping to detonate improvised explosives concealed in containers of liquids or gels aboard flights heading from London to the U.S. and Canada.
A police inquiry into the purported plot caused major disruption to flights in August 2006 in Britain, and eventually led to tight restrictions on the amount of liquids airline passengers can carry onboard.
Judge David Calvert-Smith told about 100 prospective jurors Wednesday that the trial would be long and complex.
He said it would likely begin on Thursday, when prosecutor Peter Wright will outline his allegations against the eight.
"This case concerns an allegation that in 2006 a number of men planned to create bombs which some of their number would take on board passenger aircraft flying from London Heathrow to various destinations in Canada and the USA," Calvert-Smith said.
He said prosecutors alleged "the bombs were planned to be set off when the aircraft were airborne and the bombers and all on board the aircraft would be killed."
American and British intelligence officials have said the men had no obvious links to support networks in the United States.
The eight men are accused of conspiracy to murder and a charge of planning acts of violence likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft. Both charges carry maximum sentences of life imprisonment.
They are Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27; Assad Sarwar, 27; Tanvir Hussain, 27; Mohammed Gulzar, 26; Ibrahim Savant, 27; Arafat Waheed Khan, 26; Waheed Zaman, 23 and Umar Islam, 29. Ali also is known as Ahmed Ali Khan, and Islam also is known as Brian Young, court records show.