Abdulla Ahmed ali, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar were found guilty in London on Tuesday of conspiring to kill passengers and crew members aboard 7 flights that were scheduled to leave London for various cities in the US and Canada. The bombs were meant to go off simultaneously while all seven flights were above the Atlantic, which would have killed nearly 1500 people. The bombs were to be made from concentrated hydrogen peroxide hidden in soft-drink bottles, which led to the measures prohibiting passengers from carrying liquids and creams aboard flights that are still in force today.
The three men were part of a group of eight, however, five of the men were found not guilty in a previous trial due to a hung jury. A major stumbling block in both trials is that intercepted telephone conversations and other electronic intercepts (largely provided by American intelligence), are not allowed as evidence in British courts. There had been a great deal of tension over the arrests in 2006 because the Americans felt that the evidence they had provided indicated a great risk of an attack and that the men needed to be rounded up, while the British, who had been staking out the men for months, wanted more time to gather evidence that would be allowed in their courts.
The bombings were meant to send a message that post 9/11 security measures were ineffective in foiling low-tech attacks. According to martyrdom videos made by some of the men, the purpose of the attacks was to also exact revenge on Britain and the US for interfering in Muslim countries. Mr. Hussain stated in his video that his only regret was that he “can’t come back and do this again and again…”
The conviction of these men was a great success for U.S. and British intelligence agencies. A criminal who is willing to lose their own life in order to successfully execute their plan is almost impossible to deter, because they have nothing to lose. The only opportunity we have is to learn about their plans before they have a chance to act. And while the technology used to stop these men is a valuable tool, we also need increased human intelligence…more men and women who can speak and read foreign languages and can infiltrate terrorist groups and keep tabs on their activities and provide evidence that can stand up in international courts and achieve fair convictions.