A judge sentenced a top al-Qaeda operative to life in prison yesterday in a trans-Atlantic plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange, the World Bank and landmark London hotels.
Judge Neil Butterfield called Dhiren Barot's plot to "slaughter hundreds -- if not thousands -- of wholly innocent men, women and children" sophisticated, deadly and active.
Seven others linked to Barot are to be tried in Britain next year.
"You have chosen to use your life to bring death and destruction to the Western world," Butterfield told Barot, who stared blankly as he heard the sentence. "You were planning to bring indiscriminate carnage, bloodshed and butchery ... on an unprecedented scale."
Barot, 34, planned a series of synchronized strikes in Britain -- including a plan to blow up a subway car as it passed through a tunnel below the River Thames -- as part of a plot to unleash a "memorable black day" of terror, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said British attacks were "imminent." They said Barot put the US plot on hold after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"The conspiracy was in its final stages," prosecutor Edmund Lawson said.
In a detailed proposal submitted to al-Qaeda financiers in Pakistan, Barot planned to use a six-man group to blow up limousines crammed with gas cylinders underneath parking garages -- a plan that Barot said would kill "hundreds if the building collapses."
Lawson said Barot also wrote in documents that he wanted to add napalm and nails to the limousine bombs to "heighten the terror and chaos." He also considered adding radioactive material, Lawson said, but decided a dirty bomb should be used in a separate attack.
The former airline ticket clerk and Muslim convert pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to commit mass murder on both sides of the Atlantic. He is wanted in the US and Yemen on separate terror-related charges.
After sentencing, he will be temporarily transferred from his cell to the US to face a four-count indictment, including a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, a spokesman for the Home Office said.
Starting in 1995, Barot trained at terrorist camps in Pakistan, Kashmir, Malaysia and the Philippines -- crisscrossing the globe to refine skills with weapons, bomb-making and chemicals, Lawson said.
He became quickly inspired to plot a "memorable black day for the enemies of Islam," Lawson said, quoting from Barot's notebook.
Under the alias Issa al-Britani, Barot was named by the US commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as an associate of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged Sept. 11 planner.