Irfan Naseer (31), Irfan Khalid (27), and Ashik Ali (27), from Birmingham, were found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court of being ‘central figures’ in the plot.
Jurors were told they planned to set off up to eight bombs in rucksacks and possibly detonate bombs on timers. Police described the men as “committed, passionate extremists”. The trio were arrested in 2011 amid fears their plans were accelerating.
Detectives believe it was the most significant terror plot to be uncovered since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs disguised as soft drinks. Khalid even boasted that the attack was ‘another 9/11’ as ‘revenge for everything’.
The three men were found guilty of 12 counts of preparing for acts of terrorism between December 2010 and their arrest in September the following year.
The jury heard that Naseer and Khalid had received training from al-Qaeda contacts in Pakistan — and had recorded martyrdom videos there before returning to the UK.
Having recruited others, the group posed as legitimate charity workers on the streets of Birmingham and collected thousands of pounds from unsuspecting members of the public. The judge told the men they would all face life in prison when they were sentenced in April or May.
Justice Henriques told Naseer he had been convicted on “overwhelming evidence” and that he faced “a very long minimum term”.
He said: “You were seeking to recruit a team of somewhere between six and eight suicide bombers to carry out a spectacular bombing campaign, one which would create an anniversary along the lines of 7/7 or 9/11. It’s clear that you were planning a terrorist outrage in Birmingham.”
In surveillance recordings, Naseer was heard talking about the possibility of mixing poison into creams such as Vaseline or Nivea and smearing them on car handles to cause mass deaths.
The trio even pondered welding blades to a truck and driving it into people.