British Jury in Terror Case Shown 'Martyrdom Tapes'

Abdulla Ahmed Ali: Claimed to lead the
Abdulla Ahmed Ali: Claimed to lead the "blessed operation." (Handout - Getty Images)
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By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 5, 2008

LONDON, April 4 -- The angry young man stared into the camera and vowed that body parts would be "decorating the streets" of the West if Britain and the United States did not stop "meddling" in Muslim countries.

Prosecutors said the tape, played for a British jury Friday, was a suicide message recorded by one of the eight British Muslim men on trial here for allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic airliners in 2006. On the tape, the man praised the "blessed operation" and declared to his fellow Britons, "The time has come for you to be destroyed."

In six alleged "martyrdom tapes" shown to a hushed courtroom on the second day of the trial, the men said they planned their attacks to protest U.S. and British policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

Laying out the government's case in the biggest terrorism trial since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, prosecutor Peter Wright told the jury that police surveillance teams at one point overheard one of the defendants telling another that he was considering taking his infant child on the suicide mission with him, but his wife "would not agree to it."

Wright said that in addition to planning "wholesale death and destruction in the skies above Europe and North America," one of the plotters was gathering information on potential ground targets in Britain. They included nuclear power plants, gas pipelines, oil refineries, tunnels, electrical grids, Internet service providers, the London financial district and the Heathrow Airport control tower.

The men were arrested in August 2006, accused of plotting to smuggle liquid explosives aboard planes departing London for North America and blow them up in midair. The alleged conspiracy grounded flights for days, cost airlines and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars and led to permanent restrictions on liquids carried through airport security checkpoints.

In the tapes, the men are dressed in black and white head scarves and sit before a black flag with Arabic writing. Some jab their fingers angrily at the camera as they speak. One vowed to "punish and humiliate" nonbelievers in Islam and teach Westerners "a lesson they will never forget."

"This is revenge for the actions of the U.S.A. in the Muslim lands and their accomplices, such as the British and the Jews," said a man identified by Wright as defendant Umar Islam, 29, one of the eight men charged with trying to destroy at least seven United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada jets bound for the United States and Canada.

"This is a warning to the nonbelievers that if they do not leave our lands, there are many more like us," the man on the tape said, adding, "We are doing this in order to gain the pleasure of our Lord, and Allah loves us to die and kill in his path."

In another video, a man identified as Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, said he was the leader of the "blessed operation" and accused his fellow British citizens of caring more about animals than about Muslims.

In what Wright said was a reference to Osama bin Laden, Ali said, "Sheik Osama has warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed, and now the time has come for you to be destroyed."

He warned the West to "stop meddling in our affairs."

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