London: A jury convicted a former British
Airways computer specialist on Tuesday of plotting with US-born
extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to blow up an airplane in an
attack intended to kill hundreds of people.
Rajib Karim, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi man, was
convicted of four counts of engaging in preparation for
terrorist attacks. He had already pleaded guilty to five other
terrorism offenses, but denied plotting an attack in Britain.
A jury deliberated for 16 hours before agreeing with
prosecutors who said Karim used his position at the airline to
conspire with al-Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher
associated with al-Qaida and thought to be hiding in Yemen. At
one point, encouraged by al-Awlaki, he applied for training as
a flight attendant.
Colin Gibbs, a counterterrorism lawyer for the Crown
Prosecution Service, said Karim "was plotting with the cleric
to use his job at BA to kill hundreds of innocent people."
"The most chilling element of this case is probably
the fact that Karim tried to enroll as cabin crew and anyone
can imagine how horrific the consequences of this could have
been, had he succeeded," Gibbs said.
Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the court that Karim
"sought work in this country of the sort which would be useful
to him or a terrorist organisation in planning an attack —
an attack of the sort which might result in the wholesale loss
Prosecutors said that in heavily encrypted exchanges,
Al-Awlaki quizzed Karim about details of security flaws and
urged the aspiring terrorist to train as a flight attendant to
assist plans to use suicide bombers or mail bombs to down