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Former British Airways worker given 30 years for plane bomb plot

Rajib Karim was convicted last month of plotting with extremist al-Awlaki in a plan to blow up a US-bound plane.

Image: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

A BRITISH JUDGE SENTENCED a former British Airways computer specialist to 30 years in prison yesterday for plotting with US-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to blow up a US-bound plane.

Rajib Karim, 31, originally from Bangladesh, was convicted last month. He denied planning the attack, but pleaded guilty to separatte terrorism charges.

The judge recommended Karim’s deportation from Britain upon his release from prison and praised detectives for their painstaking work decrypting coded messages found on Karim’s computer.

Prosecutors had argued that Karim used his position at the airline to conspire with al-Awlaki, who has been associated with al-Qaeda and is thought to be hiding in Yemen. At one point, encouraged by al-Awlaki, he applied for training as a flight attendant, they said.

“Our highest priority is in the US,” al-Awlaki told Karim in an encrypted message, thought by police to have been sent in February 2010. “The question is, with the people you have, is it possible to get a package, or a person with a package, onboard a flight heading to the US?”

The cleric told Karim he hoped he would be able to supply “critical and urgent information” related to airline security because of his role at BA. He told the airline worker he “may be able to play a crucial role” in future attacks.

Al-Awlaki is thought to have orchestrated the unsuccessful October plot to send mail bombs on planes from Yemen to the US, hidden in the toner cartridges of computer printers. He is also believed to have inspired or helped coordinate the failed December 2009 Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner and the 2009 shooting at a US Army base in Fort Hood, Texas.

- AP

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