Al-Qaeda is obsessed with using commercial airliners to carry out terror attacks and it may try again to use aircraft to strike Western targets, a leading British defence think-tank warned on Tuesday. The warning comes a day after three British men of Pakistani origin were convicted of plotting to blow up flights from London to North America using bombs disguised as soft drinks.
Michael Clarke, director of defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that al-Qaeda was more "marginalised" now than in the past, but still posed a threat to the West. "There's no doubt there are people in the tribal areas on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan who have tried these plots," he was quoted as saying by the BBC."There were four or five big plots and they've all come to light in the UK. They haven't worked, but they're still plotting."
Three persons - 28-year-old Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28-year-old Tanvir Hussain and 29-year-old Assad Sarwar-were convicted of plotting to blow up flights. The arrest of the three in 2006 changed the face of air travel, prompting the introduction of restrictions on the carriage of liquids.
The plot was directed by al-Qaeda elements in Pakistan, including a British man - Rashid Rauf - from Birmingham, now thought to be dead, the report said quoting intelligence officers.