Two plead guilty in plot to blow up planes over Atlantic

Khan, 27, and Zaman, 24 admitted to "conspiring to commit a public nuisance," but deny trying to kill people.

heathrow 298 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
heathrow 298 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Two defendants accused of plotting to detonate liquid explosives aboard at least seven trans-Atlantic jets in 2006 pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges. Arafat Waheed Khan, 27, and Waheed Zaman, 24, admitted on Monday to "conspiring to commit a public nuisance." But they still deny plotting to kill thousands of people by smuggling liquid explosives onto jets bound from London to North America and detonating them in flight. They and six other British Muslims are being tried on charges of conspiracy to commit murder in the alleged plot in the summer of 2006. Announcement of the discovery of a plot caused a major disruption of travel in Britain, and restrictions on the amount of liquid passengers can carry in their hand luggage - imposed after the men's arrest - remain in place. Prosecutors say the men targeted at least seven passenger flights from London to the United States and Canada. Prosecutors showed the court what they said were "martyrdom" videos intended to be released after the planes were destroyed. The defendants deny the charge of conspiracy to murder. Three of the men - Ahmed Ali, 27, Assad Sarwar, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 27 - admitted earlier this month that they wanted to set off bombs, though not on planes. Ali told the court he wanted to set off a small explosion at a prominent location - such as Heathrow Airport or the Houses of Parliament - and release the videos as part of a publicity stunt to draw attention to Britain's policies in the Muslim world. "It was childish, it was stupid, but it is not murder," his attorney Nadine Radford said Tuesday. Prosecutor Peter Wright has rejected that explanation, calling it "bogus." "This was no propaganda video, no documentary, no exercise or stunt - this was for real," he told jurors last week. Khan and Zaman's guilty pleas bring to seven the number of defendants who have so far admitted to plotting to cause a public nuisance by releasing the threatening videos. The jury at southeast London's Woolwich Crown Court must still decide whether the men intended to attacking planes at the height of the summer travel season. Defense attorneys are summing up their defendants' individual cases and the jury is expected to retire this week.