November 9th, 2006 13:53 EST
Terrorist jailed for life for conspiracy to murder in the UK and US
A British man who planned to blow up UK and American targets killing hundreds, if not thousands of people, was jailed for life today with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 40 years.
Dhiren Barot proposed a series of co-ordinated attacks in the UK, including detonating a dirty bomb, launching an attack on a train and packing three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives before setting them off in underground car parks.
The 34-year-old, a close associate or member of Al Qaeda, was arrested by the Met's Anti-Terrorist Branch in what became at the time, the largest counter terrorist investigation ever launched in the UK. The investigation also involved officers from Special Branch.
Barot also made plans to cause lethal explosions at American financial institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange and Washington's World Bank.
His aim was to kill as many innocent civilians as possible.
Mr Justice Butterfield told Barot: "You are a determined and dedicated terrorist. You are a highly intelligent and extremely dangerous man. You trained for years in Pakistan in order to wreak death and destruction on the western world."
Barot had previously admitted conspiracy to murder at a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court in October.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Met Counter Terrorism Command, said:
"By his own admission Barot wanted to commit mass murder on both sides of the Atlantic. He was the leader of the plot. If he had succeeded, hundreds if not thousands could have died.
"His plans to set off a dirty bomb in this country could have caused widespread fear, panic and disruption.
"Barot was a determined and experienced terrorist. He went to terrorist training camps in 1995, long before 9/11, or the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq. He is not someone who has recently been attracted to the terrorist cause.
"He is a full-time terrorist. His training showed through. He used anti-surveillance, coded messages and secret meetings, but he could not evade capture. He was stopped before he could attack the British and American people. As always, our concern for public safety was paramount.
"I cannot praise highly enough everyone who has been involved in this case for their tireless and skilful work in bringing Barot to justice. His arrest and conviction will be seen as a landmark in the fight against terrorism in the UK.
"For well over two years we have been unable to show the British public the reality of the threat they faced from this man. Now they can see for themselves the full horror of his plans."
Barot carried out extensive research and planning for the attacks, including reconnaissance visits to America, via the internet and visiting public and specialist libraries.
He wrote detailed documents for attacks in both countries, which were found on computer hard drives following his arrest in August 2004. Handwritten notes referring to chemical mixtures were also recovered.
In a written plan titled the Gas Limos Project, which was recovered from a laptop during a counter terrorist operation in Gujurat, Barot wrote about the chaos and pandemonium a bomb exploding on a tube train travelling under the Thames could cause.
He wrote: . . . imagine the chaos that would be caused if a powerful explosion were to rip through here and actually rupture the river itself. This would cause pandemonium, what with the explosions, flooding, drowning, etc that would occur/result.
Other elements of the 'Gas Limos Project' were recovered in the UK following his arrest in August 2004. It had been completed in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings and proposed a series of co-ordinated attacks to be launched in this country.
Various methods of attack, including packing limousines with explosives and driving them into underground car parks, arson and aeroplanes flown into buildings, were considered in it.
The Gas Limos Project also made reference to David Copeland, who carried out three attacks in London in 1999; Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh and Ramzi Yusef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber. This clearly demonstrates that Barot had studied and been influenced by the work of other terrorists.
Detailed plans including organisation structures and business histories of some of Barot's American targets - Citigroup, Prudential, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the New York Stock Exhange - were among other documents found on computers.
The plans also included details of structural surveys, escape routes and security measures and how close emergency services such as fire departments and hospitals were to each building.
The intention, clearly set out in the documents, was to collapse the buildings causing massive loss of life. Plans and research was still being worked on as late as July 2004.
A reconnaissance video filmed in New York and focusing on security measures at Manhattan buildings was also recovered after Barot's arrest.
The investigation, codenamed Operation Rhyme, set new standards for the scale and complexity of the evidence. Nearly 300 computers and around 1,800 items of discs, cds and removable storage were seized and examined, and 4,000 garages and lock ups visited.
The case also involved a wide range of investigative methods, including forensic linguistics to prove the authorship of documents; facial mapping; computer forensics and handwriting analysis.
If you suspect it, report it. Anti-Terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321