Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Camcorder footage was key in trans-Atlantic terror trial


Shaky camcorder footage of the World Trade Center by an al-Qaeda operative was the first stage of a plot to murder hundreds in the US and Britain with attacks on financial targets, luxury hotels and train stations.

Dhiren Barot shot the grainy film five months before the Sept. 11 attacks, as he began years of meticulous planning for terror strikes on both sides of the Atlantic.

The camera zooms in on signs for Wall Street and Broad Street and lingers on the World Trade Center's twin towers as someone off screen mimicked the sound of an explosion.

The footage was found spliced into a videotape copy of the movie Die Hard With A Vengeance.

"It is memorable for its macabre prophecy," said the prosecutor, Edmund Lawson, adding that Barot was not believed to have had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The videotape was played at Barot's two-day sentencing hearing, and on Tuesday, the 34-year-old British convert to Islam was given a life term.

Barot drafted detailed proposals for schemes to explode stretch limousines packed with gas tanks, napalm and nails and to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb, prosecutors said.

The plans were designed to cause maximum carnage, the judge told Barot, who stared blankly ahead as he learned he would not be eligible for parole for at least 40 years -- one of the harshest sentences ever meted out in a British court.

Barot, who pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit mass murder, is wanted in the US to answer a four-count indictment over the plans to target symbolic financial targets. Under British law, he could be temporarily transferred to the US to stand trial.

Reports written by Barot and stored on computers in London and Pakistan revealed proposals for strikes against the IMF in Washington, the Citigroup headquarters in New York, the Prudential building in Newark, New Jersey, and the New York Stock Exchange.

Judge Neil Butterfield said they had been handed for approval to al-Qaeda leaders like "corporate reports going to head office."

The British attacks were "imminent" at the time of Barot's arrest in 2004, although prosecutors said an exact time frame was not known.

"The conspiracy was in its final stages," Lawson said, explaining how in February 2004 Barot had submitted detailed proposals to al-Qaeda financiers in Pakistan.

Investigators said Barot had traveled the world to gain terrorist training.

"He is a long-term, dedicated, committed member of al-Qaeda," said Peter Clarke, Britain's top anti-terrorist detective.

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