Three British men have been found guilty of conspiring to murder, but the jury in London did not find enough evidence to convict them in a plot to detonate liquid explosives aboard transatlantic flights.

After more than two days of deliberations, the 12 jurors found that Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain conspired to murder people using hydrogen peroxide to make a bomb.

But the jury did not reach a verdict on prosecutors' claims that Ali intended to detonate bombs aboard passenger jets flying from London's Heathrow Airport to cities in the U.S. and Canada.

The jury failed to reach any verdict for four defendants — Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan, Waheed Zaman and Umar Islamand — and acquitted an eighth man, Mohammed Gulzar. Prosecutors said they were considering a retrial.

During the five-month trial, prosecutors said a group led by Ali considered national infrastructure targets including gas terminals, oil refineries and Heathrow Airport.

Prosecutors alleged that the men planned to target flights out of London's Heathrow Airport to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., as well as Air Canada flights to Toronto and Montreal.

The court heard that the men planned to bring homemade bomb ingredients on board planes disguised in soft drink containers, then detonate them mid-flight in a plot likened in scale to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S.

After the men were arrested in raids across Britain on Aug. 10, 2006, new rules went into effect restricting the amount of liquid that passengers could carry in their hand luggage. Those rules remain in place.

During the trial, lawyers for Ali and his co-defendants argued that they planned to set off bombs, but not aboard planes.

Ali told the court he hoped a small, non-fatal bombing at Britain's Houses of Parliament, an oil refinery or an airport would jolt Londoners as part of a publicity stunt to bring attention to an anti-Western documentary that they were making. The aim was to change the British government's policy toward the Muslim world. 

"It was childish, it was stupid, but it is not murder," the lawyer, Nadine Radford, said during a July hearing.

Ali, Sarwar and Hussain had already pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause explosions, but denied conspiracy to murder.

Those three and two others also acknowledged conspiring to cause a public nuisance by distributing videos threatening suicide bomb attacks in Britain. The other three defendants denied all charges.

Corrections

  • The three men were not convicted of conspiracy to murder airline passengers by detonating North America-bound flights in mid-air, as originally reported by the Canadian Press. They were convicted on charges of conspiring to murder.
    Sep 08, 2008 3:00 AM ET
With files from the Associated Press