Top Brit cop reveals how he foiled 9/11-style plot to bring down SEVEN passenger planes with Lucozade bottle bombs

A TOP British cop has revealed how detectives foiled a horror 9/11-style terror plot to bring down seven passenger planes with Lucozade bottle bombs.

Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth said the terror nuts planned to smuggle hydrogen peroxide onto the jets in Oasis and Lucozade bottles before making small bombs to blow a hole in the fuselage and bring down the planes.

DCS Southworth told how the full details of the huge operation to smash the "liquid bombers" were even kept from senior officers until the 11th hour.

Cops in the UK had started monitoring the Islamic Medical Association charity shop in Clapton, east London, as US forces poured into Afghanistan in 2001 in the wake of 9/11.

The charity was raising money and collecting equipment to send to camps on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Pals Assad Sarwar and Abdulla Ahmed Ali volunteered to deliver the aid and soon came to the attention of security services after Ali developed radial beliefs.

When Ali, now 41, returned from a trip to Pakistan in June 2006, investigators secretly opened his baggage and found an unusual powdered soft drink, Tang, and a large number of batteries, the Mirror reports.

The discovery prompted the largest surveillance operation the Metropolitan Police and MI5 have ever launched as they closely watched Ali and his associates.

On August 3, 2006, MI5 broke into the east London flat being used by Ali and installed a tiny camera and microphone.

They watched as Ali and his friend Tanvir Hussain built odd-looking devices out of drink bottles.

It later emerged they were plotting to blow up seven transatlantic passenger planes leaving London in a 9/11-style atrocity.

The plan involved smuggling hydrogen peroxide onboard in 500ml of Oasis and Lucozade bottles before constructing bombs to bring down the planes.

DCS Southworth said the bombs were "specially configured to evade airport security, X-rays and scanning".

He told the Mirror: "They could be assembled quite easily on a plane and then held up against the fuselage of the interior to cause an explosion, not a massive one but big enough to blow a hole in the side of a compressed air cabin, which would bring down the plane.

They could be assembled quite easily on a plane and then held up against the fuselage of the interior to cause an explosion.

"If we work on simple maths that there's potentially 200 people on an average flight and, if the bombs were detonated overland it could genuinely have been into the same numbers of deaths as 9/11.

"The risk was off the charts."

On August 9, 2006, British cops swooped on Ali and his associates and arrested 24 people.

"Even though I was a detective inspector, there was such operational security around the investigation that I only found out the full details of the plot 48 hours before the arrests," DCS Southworth said.

"Within the command it was recognised that this was a whole different level of threat and they needed to keep the operation tight, if you like, which meant that many of our own internal people didn't even know all the details.

"It was at the witching hour when we were all told what we needed to know and went to arrest everyone, so it was late in the day when I appreciated just how complex, how innovative the plot was and how many people were involved."


DCS Southworth described the "long, long night" when cops descended on multiple addresses to detain dozens of suspects.

"We knew where most of the suspects were but it would have only taken a few of them to get away and, if they had these devices they could evade detection, board a plane and carry out their attack," he said.

"We had a list of people who needed to be arrested and we had pictures of them pinned to the wall and when the last red dot went on the last man arrested and someone said 'right, we've got him', there was a sigh of relief and half a cheer."

In 2009, father-of-two Ali, of Newham, London, was jailed for at least 40 years for conspiracy to murder.

Sarwar, then 24, of High Wycombe, and associate Tanvir Hussain, then 27, of Walthamstow, were also found guilty of the same charge and sentenced to 36 and 32 years, respectively.

Four others were convicted of taking part in the plot following retrials.

If the bombs were detonated overland it could genuinely have been into the same numbers of deaths as 9/11.

DCS Southworth said Operation Overt, as it became known, came at a time when investigators were "extraordinarily busy".

"We hadn't recovered from 7/7, not just as a society but as a service," he said.

"We were still faced with a number of investigations at that point, which were of the likes we'd never seen before.

"There were so many plots that the public never heard that we were also working on. We had about 60 live investigations which were high priority, although not every one would have been a major attack."

Operation Overt involved 26,000 exhibits, 102 property searches in which 80 computers and other devices were seized, along with 14,000 gigs of data.

It also involved police visits to Pakistan, South Africa, Mauritius, Belgium and even Japan – where officers tracked down batteries used by the gang.

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