Four British men pleaded guilty Wednesday to plotting an al Qaeda inspired attack against the London Stock Exchange (LSE) [official website]. In December 2010, nine men who met through radical Islamist groups were charged and taken into custody [JURIST report] in the UK for conspiring to bomb the US Embassy [official website] and the LSE. When the plot was uncovered, all nine men were picked up in raids. They denied all charges originally, but four of the men pleaded guilty [AP report] on the eve of their trials. Mohammed Chowdhury, Shah Rahman, Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah admitted that they planned to place an improvised explosive device in the LSE toilets. The other five men pleaded guilty to lesser charges. The prosecutor admitted that the men did not plan to kill anyone, but intended to spread mass terror and economic harm. However, he did contend that their actions created risks to the lives of many. The men were not members of al Qaeda, but were inspired by the organization and the sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the US born cleric who was killed last year [JURIST report]. The men talked and planned openly, not knowing that they were under surveillance. Sentencing will take place next week, but the judge has already informed Chowdhury and Rahman that they will receive sentences of 18 1/2 and 17 years in prison respectively.
Great Britain has been the target of terror plots in the years since the 2005 London transit bombings [JURIST report; JURIST news archive], but has been proactive about prompt apprehension of terror suspects. The 2005 attacks killed 52 people and injured 700 others. In October 2010, a UK court began inquests into the bombings [JURIST report] to determine whether more lives could have been saved with a quicker response. In July 2010, the UK Woolwich Crown Court sentenced three British Muslims to a minimum of 20 years in prison after being convicted [JURIST reports] and sentenced to life in prison under the Terrorism Act of 2006 for involvement with a 2006 plot to blow up numerous transatlantic flights.