Three Found Guilty of 2006 Airline Bomb Plot

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Three terror suspects in the United Kingdom were convicted Monday of a 2006 plot to blow up jetliners flying over the Atlantic.

Prosecutors say they planned to set off explosives disguised as soft drinks, and the goal was to kill thousands, rivaling the September 11 attacks.    

If authorities hadn't caught on and intervened, it would have produced "murder and mayhem on an unimaginable scale," according to one British official.

The foiled plot: planes boarded by terrorists with bomb-making materials, detonated over the U.S. and Canada, killing as many as 2,000 people in the air and possibly hundreds more on the ground.

On Monday, a jury in London found the evidence compelling enough to convict three terror suspects -- all British born-and-raised Muslims.

The August 2006 plot, officials believe, was concocted by Al Qaeda and was within days of taking effect.

Click play for more with CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck.

But the men had been under surveillance and were caught in test runs.

Prosecutors say they planned to smuggle explosives hidden in soda bottles and assemble the bombs in bathrooms on the planes.

Officials identified seven specific U.S.-bound flights including New York, Washington, San Francisco, and Chicago as target destinations.

But Britain's MI5 Spy Agency believes the group planned to strike in two waves, using as many as 18 jetliners.

The case led to changes in air travel restrictions around the world, limiting the amount of liquids and gels passengers can bring aboard as a carryon.

In all, eight defendants had charges brought against them. All originally denied most of those charges.

They claimed they were filming a documentary and planned the stunt to expose the oppression of Muslims by the Western world.

They insisted that these videos were not "martyrdom" tapes -- but part of their documentary.

"You have persisted in trying to humiliate us, kill us and destroy us. Sheikh Osama warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed, and now the time has come for you to be destroyed," Abdulla Ahmed Ali said in the video. Ahmed Al was one of three convicted of conspiring to activate bombs disguised as drinks.

"I am warning you today so tomorrow you have no cause for complaints. Remember, as you kill us, you will be killed and as you bomb us, you will be bombed," Waheed Zaman said in the video. Zaman was among three other men who were not convicted for the plot.

Britain Home Secretary Alan Johnson said if they were able to carry out their plan, it would have produced "murder and mayhem on an unimaginable scale."

"This case reaffirms that we face a real and serious threat from terrorism," Johnson said. "This was a particularly complex and daring plot which would have led to a terrible attack resulting in major loss of life."

The verdict was only a partial victory. Four other men who pleaded guilty to a lesser charges, were acquitted of conspiring to blow up planes. An eighth man was cleared of all charges.

The judge in the case scheduled to hand down sentences next Monday.

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