The four men who took part in a Lake District training camp before attempting a bombing campaign in London were sentenced to life imprisonment today.
They will all be pensioners before they are considered for release; the judge told them they would serve a minimum of 40 years. Their planned attack was, according to Mr Justice Fulford, plainly linked to the murderous attacks two weeks earlier that killed 52 people on the London transport system.
Muktar Said Ibrahim on the Great Langdale campsite
Questions are now being asked of the security services who had the men under surveillance at the site in Great Langdale, Cumbria, more than a year before the unsuccessful bombing campaign. There are claims that the camp which the bombers attended in May 2004 at Baysbrown Farm, Chapel Stile, was a jihadi training session, though people who were in the area at the time said they saw nothing unusual about the group of men.
They were part of a much larger group photographed by police at the site. Leader of the bombers Muktar Said Ibrahim was also said during the trial to have travelled to Pakistan to take part in al-Qaida terror training camps, despite having a previous conviction for robbery.
Ibrahim, 29, Yassin Omar, 26, Ramzi Mohammed, 25, and Hussain Osman, 28, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder by the jury at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday. Jurors failed to reach a verdict on two other men, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu and Adel Yahya, who will now face a retrial. They both deny conspiracy to murder.
In sentencing the men, Judge Fulford said: “This was a viable, indeed a very nearly successful, attempt at mass murder.
“It was long in the planning and came soon after July 7; it was designed for maximum impact. The evidence leads me to the firm conclusion that these were not truly isolated events but to the contrary. They were to an extent co-ordinated and connected in that I have no doubt that they were both part of an al Qaida-inspired and controlled sequence of attacks.
“It is clear that at least 50 people would have died; hundreds of people would have been wounded; thousands would have had their lives permanently damaged, disfigured or otherwise, whether they were Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, agnostic or atheist.”
Police in Cumbria warned the public to be on its guard. Acting Deputy Chief Constable Graham Sunderland said: “We are urging people to help protect themselves and those around them by remaining extra vigilant.
“As our response to events we have increased the number of police officers carrying out high visibility patrols in key areas to provide reassurance to communities and visitors.
“There remains no specific threat to Cumbria. Although it is important that people are vigilant and report any concerns, they should continue going about their daily routine where possible.”