LONDON - An al-Qaida operative was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for
plotting to bomb the New York Stock Exchange and other US financial targets and
blow up landmark London hotels and train stations with limousines packed with
gas tanks, napalm and nails.
The plans were designed to cause maximum carnage, the judge told Dhiren
Barot, who stared blankly ahead as he learned he would not be eligible for
parole for at least 40 years - one of the harshest sentences ever meted out
in a British court.
a 34-year-old British convert to Islam who pleaded guilty last month to
conspiring to commit mass murder, remains wanted by the United States and Yemen
on separate terror-related charges. Under British law, he could be temporarily
transferred to the United States to stand trial.
In this photo made available by the
London Metropolitan Police on Monday Nov. 6, 2006 shows Dhiren Barot, 34,
of Willesden, London in this undated handout photo. Barot, Muslim convert
considered to be the highest ranking al-Qaida operative captured in
Britain arrived at court amid heavy security Monday for a sentencing
hearing in a plot to bomb major financial targets in the United States,
such as the New York Stock Exchange and the International Monetary Fund
headquarters in Washington, D.C. [AP]
Investigators said Barot traveled the world to gain terrorist training,
meeting terror leaders including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged architect of
the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
Born in India and raised in London, Barot began plotting in 2000 to attack a
host of financial industry targets in the United States. Investigators said he
shelved the plan after the 9/11 attacks, focusing his efforts on ways to
detonate limousines loaded with gas, napalm and nails.
His targets included landmark London hotels such as The Ritz and The Savoy,
and railway stations such as London's Waterloo, Paddington and King's Cross,
prosecutor Edmund Lawson said at the two-day sentencing hearing.
Barot fantasized about blowing up a subway train as it traveled in a
tunnel below the River Thames - an attack that could "cause pandemonium ... explosions,
flooding, drowning," according to documents filed with the court. Other planned
attacks involved a radioactive dirty bomb and exploding a gasoline tanker.
"The conspiracy was in its final stages," Lawson said. The prosecutor said
Barot submitted detailed proposals in February 2004 to al-Qaida financiers in
Pakistan. It said the limousine plan required a six-man team and would kill
hundreds. Barot estimated the cost would be about $115,000.
Proposals for the British attacks and strikes against the International
Monetary Fund in Washington, the Citigroup headquarters in New York and the
Prudential building in Newark, N.J., were sent like "corporate reports going to
head office," Judge Neil Butterfield said.
Prosecutors acknowledged they had no firm timeframe for the attacks. Barot's
lawyer, Ian MacDonald, pleading for leniency, said Tuesday the plans were "rough
and exploratory" and far from fruition.
Details of the planned attacks in London resurrected fears of the July 7,
2005, suicide bombings that killed 52 people aboard three subways and a bus last
year. The bombings deepened divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims, provoking
an angry debate in Britain over religious tolerance and ethnic assimilation.