Three terrorists who dubbed themselves the ‘Three Musketeers’ as they plotted a London Bridge-style knife rampage are facing jail today.
Naweed Ali, 29, Khobaib Hussain, 25 and Mohibur Rahman, 33, were foiled by MI5 agents as they collected together an small arsenal of weapons for the planned atrocity.
They had a half-made pipe bomb and a meat cleaver with the word ‘Kafir’ etched into the blade, and used the Three Musketeers Disney image as a logo on encrypted messages they sent to each other.
Husssain and Ali were already under the watchful eye of authorities because of previous convictions for attending terrorist training camps in Pakistan.
After hearing of the growing plot, police and security services set up a fake delivery firm called ‘Hero Couriers’ to snare them again.
They rented premises in Birmingham city centre and hired Hussain for £100 a day – even issuing him with a t-shirt and high-visibility vest bearing the company logo as he was dispatched on jobs around the country.
An undercover operative using the name ‘Vincent’ saw Hussain as he loaded a sports bag into the back seat of Ali’s black Seat Leon car, which had been bugged by security services.
In the bag was the meat cleaver and half-made pipe bomb. Other items included an air pistol imitation hand gun with an empty magazine taped to the side of it, 11 more shotgun cartridges, a live unfired 9mm bullet, a roll of gaffer tape and a pair of black latex gloves.
The three men were arrested in August last year but they insisted ‘Vincent’ had planted the weapons in the car to frame them.
However, a jury at the Old Bailey today found all three guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism, at the end of a lengthy trial.
Prosecutors had argued the defendants shared “the same radical belief in violent jihad” and were planning an “imminent” knife rampage similar to the London Bridge attack and the brutal murder of soldier Lee Rigby.
Jurors continue to deliberate on a fourth defendant, Tahir Aziz, 38, who is accused of buying a samurai sword for the terror cell.
Ali and Hussain, both from Sparkill, Birmingham, and Rahman, from Stoke, each denied but were convicted of a single charge of preparing for acts of terrorism between 25 May and 27 August last year.
Aziz, also from Stoke, denies the same charge.
Upon hearing the verdicts, Rahman shouted from the dock: “Hope you’re happy with your lives and your deception.” Mr Justice Globe remanded all four in custody until sentencing tomorrow morning.
The five-month trial at the Old Bailey almost collapsed when a juror joked about being attracted to the officer in the case.
Her friend had to be discharged from the trial after it was revealed she had repeatedly asked court staff to find out if the detective was single.
The court heard Rahman was sentenced to five years in prison in 2012 for having terrorist publications, and claimed MI5 agents had tried to recruit him as informant against hate preacher Anjem Choudary.
Experts found the part-built IED in Hussain’s car was made with the exact 22mm piping he had been taught about while studying plumbing at City College in Birmingham.
His DNA was also found on a strip of tape used to strap an empty magazine onto an imitation hand gun inside the the JD Sport bag found in his car.
Ali told the court he was only interested in ‘innocent pasttimes’ such as playing FIFA on his Playstation and watching the US sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on TV.
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