London: Three Britons were jailed for life on Monday for plotting a "terrorist outrage" on the scale of the September 11 attacks by blowing up transatlantic airliners bound for North America using bombs made from liquid explosives.
The suspected al Qaeda plot, which British detectives said was just days from being put into operation, had huge worldwide ramifications leading to tight restrictions on the amount of liquids passengers could take on board aircraft.
The bombers intended to destroy at least seven planes, carrying over 200 passengers each, in mid-flight between London`s Heathrow airport and the United States and Canada in August 2006 using explosives hidden in soft drink bottles.
They were arrested that month following the largest counter-terrorism operation ever carried out by British police.
"The intention was to perpetrate a terrorist outrage that would stand alongside the events of September 11, 2001 in history," the judge, Justice Richard Henriques, told London`s top security Woolwich Crown Court.
He said it was "the most grave and wicked conspiracy ever proven within this jurisdiction."
The guilty trio, all Muslims, were jailed for life.
Ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, was told he would serve a minimum of 40 years behind bars; Assad Sarwar, 29, was jailed for at least 36 years; and Tanvir Hussain, 28, received a minimum term of 32 years, the Press Association reported.
The men`s lawyers told the court the plot was not imminent and stood little chance of success.
But the judge said the plan, had reached "an advanced stage in its development" and that the men had amassed chemicals to make 20 homemade bombs.