Four British men admitted to planning a bomb attack on the London Stock Exchange, saying that they were inspired by American-born al-Qaeda radical Anwar al-Awlaki.
Mohammed Chowdhury, 21; Shah Rahman, 28; Gurukanth Desai, 30; and Abdul Miah, 25, each pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism at the Woolwich Crown Court on Wednesday. Five other defendants who had attended meetings with the four men plead guilty to lesser charges, and all are scheduled to be sentenced next week.
The four were arrested in December 2010 after being tracked by undercover anti-terror police. While no specific attack date was planned at the time of their apprehension, the men had made a list of possible targets and attack methods, including mail bombs and planting improvised explosive device in toilets.
Other proposed targets included the residence of London Mayor Boris Johnson, pubs, two rabbis' homes and the U.S. embassy.
No explosive materials were bought -- and no bombs planted. But that may have been different had they not been arrested, commented BBC's home affairs correspondent Matt Prodger.
“Their intention was to cause terror and economic harm and disruption,” Prosecution lawyer Andrew Edis told The Associated Press.
“But their chosen method meant there was a risk people would be maimed or killed.”
Chowdhury admitted to being the ring leader of the four would-be terrorists, and his lawyers noted that he was going to plant the bombs himself, but without any intention to cause death or even injury but with the intention to terrorize, damage property and to cause economic damage.”
He initially connected with the other plotters through various radical organizations. The four first spoke online, and then moved on to meeting in public parks for fear of electronic and audio surveillance. They also staked out popular tourist spots of the city, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye, and all of their targets were listed on hand-written notes.
By pleading guilty, the men were allowed to hear what their sentences could look like from the presiding judge, who determined that Chowdhury would get 18-and-a-half years in prison and Rahman a maximum of 17.