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Three convicted of plotting terror attack 'bigger than 7/7'

By Laura Smith-Spark, Jonathan Wald and Claudia Rebaza, CNN
February 21, 2013 -- Updated 1758 GMT (0158 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The 3 men planned to detonate backpack bombs in crowded areas, the court heard
  • NEW: They traveled to Pakistan to attend a terror training camp
  • Ashik Ali, Ifran Khalid and Ifran Naseer wanted to carry out a big attack, prosecutors say
  • "These men had dangerous aspirations," says prosecutor Karen Jones

London (CNN) -- Three men were found guilty of plotting a terror attack they hoped would be bigger than the July 7, 2005, bombings that rocked London, UK prosecutors said Thursday.

Ashik Ali, Ifran Khalid and Ifran Naseer, all from Birmingham, England, were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court on 12 counts of committing acts in preparation for a terrorist attack.

READ: Terror trial begins in Britain

The three men planned to set off up to eight backpack bombs in crowded areas, and had traveled to a terror training camp in Pakistan for expert training and preparation, the court heard during a 14-week trial.

"Had they not been stopped, the consequences would have been catastrophic," said Karen Jones, a specialist counter-terrorism prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service. "These men had dangerous aspirations."

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While their precise targets remained unclear, "the potential for damage and loss of life from their plot should not be underestimated," Jones added.

"The evidence we put to the court showed the defendants discussing with awe and admiration the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7. These terrorists wanted to do something bigger, speaking of how 7/7 had 'gone a bit wrong.'"

READ: Documents give new details on al Qaeda's London bombings

West Midlands Police said Naseer, 31, talked of "spilling so much blood you'll have nightmares for the rest of your lives."

The three men posed as bogus charity collectors within their local community to raise money to fund their plans, the police statement said.

Naseer was also found guilty of helping four younger men travel to the terror training camp after he, Khalid and Ali, both 27, returned from Pakistan, it said.

"The link to training camps demonstrates the international dimension of the threat we continue to face," said West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale.

"The numbers involved in terrorism are small but the potential impact they could have if successful is huge."

The men are due to be sentenced later this year.

The judge told them all to expect life sentences with substantial minimum terms, the police statement said.

The July 7, 2005 bombings in London, which targeted buses and the subway, killed 52 people and injured more than 700.

CNN's Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

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