Here’s a look at the 2006 terrorist plot to blow up US-bound flights that originated in the United Kingdom.
It is believed that the terrorists were planning to carry peroxide-based explosives in liquid or gel/lotion form in carry-on luggage. The explosives would be hidden in common items such as toothpaste or shampoo bottles. Separately, the explosives’ triggers would be hidden in an MP3 player or cell phone. Once on board, the plotters would combine the two and detonate a bomb.
The attacks were to be simultaneous suicide bombings aboard planes flying over the Atlantic, giving the pilots no place to land.
A US official said the plot targeted as many as 10 flights including Continental, United, British Airways and American Airlines flights to New York, Washington DC and California.
August 10, 2006 - British police announce the arrests of 24 people in the UK who allegedly were planning to blow up US-bound airliners. The plan was to smuggle liquid explosives on to as many as 10 jetliners bound for airports in New York, Washington DC and California.
August 21, 2006 - Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Clarke and Susan Hemming of the Head Crown Prosecution Service Counter Terrorism Division announce charges against 11 people in connection with the bomb plot. Two people are charged with failing to disclose information about the terrorist plot, one is charged with possessing material likely used for terrorist purposes and eight are charged with conspiracy to murder and preparing acts of terrorism. The eight are:
- Abdullah Ahmed Ali, also known as “Abdullah Ali Ahmed Khan”
- Mohammed Gulzar
- Tanvir Hussain
- Umar Islam, aka “Brian Young”
- Arafat Waheed Khan
- Assad Ali Sarwar
- Ibrahim Savant
- Waheed Zaman
November 5, 2007- Adel Yahya, one of the original suspects, admits to helping collect bomb making information. Yahya is sentenced to six years, nine months and will be eligible for release after 22 months served.
April 2, 2008 - Trial begins for eight men charged in the plot.
September 8, 2008 - Ali, Sarwar and Hussain are convicted of conspiracy to murder charges. The jury could not reach a verdict on the charge of endangering an aircraft. Ali, Sarwar and Hussain had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause explosions. Another defendant, Gulzar, was found not guilty and the jury failed to return verdicts on four others: Islam, Savant, Khan and Zaman.
September 7, 2009 - In a retrial, Hussain, Ali and Sarwar are found guilty of plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid explosives. A fourth man, Islam, is found guilty of conspiracy to murder – a separate charge that was not explicitly linked to airlines. Savant, Khan and Zaman are found not guilty of conspiracy to murder by blowing up trans-Atlantic aircraft, but the jury was hung on whether to convict the men of conspiracy to murder persons unknown.
September 14, 2009 - Sentences are handed down for the three men convicted in the plot. Hussain receives 32 years in jail, Ali receives 40 years, and Sarwar is sentenced to 36 years.
December 9, 2009 - Adam Khatib is convicted of plotting with Ali to carry out the attacks. He is sentenced to 40 years in prison. Convicted of lesser charges in the plot are Mohammed Shamin Uddin and Nabeel Hussain. Hussain receives eight years in prison and Uddin is sentenced to 15 months.
July 8, 2010 - After a third trial, Savant, Khan and Zaman are found guilty of conspiracy to murder persons unknown. They are sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison.
August 21, 2011 - The National Geographic Channel airs the documentary, “The Liquid Bomb Plot.” Former CIA Director Michael Hayden is interviewed and reveals that the United States forced the British to proceed with arrests ahead of schedule. In August 2006, Hayden secretly traveled to Pakistan to meet with intelligence agents. During his trip, one of the key operatives in the plot, Rashid Rauf, was arrested, forcing the British to make mass arrests August 10, or risk having their investigation derailed.
April 30, 2012 - According to US authorities, an internal al Qaeda document reveals new details in the 2006 plot to bring down planes using liquid explosives, which include the level of al Qaeda’s technical expertise.