LONDON – A man accused of planning to bomb North America-bound airliners said Monday that he was planning a publicity stunt, not mass murder.
Abdulla Ahmed Ali, one of eight British Muslim charged with plotting to detonate liquid explosives aboard passenger jets, told Woolwich Crown Court he wanted to give Londoners a jolt — and attract attention for a movie he was making — by placing a small bomb at London's Houses of Parliament.
"We did not want to kill or injure anyone," Ali, 27, told Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London. He said he wanted "something small enough to cause a large bang, maybe some smoke. Something that would be considered serious and credible, something to generate that mass media attention."
Prosecutors accuse Ali of being one of three ringleaders of a plot to kill hundreds of airline passengers by detonating bombs concealed in soft drink bottles as the flights crossed the Atlantic Ocean, or over North American cities. They say Ali drew up a blueprint for building the crude bombs, suggesting the explosive mixture should be injected into bottles using a syringe to keep them factory sealed.
Jurors were also played footage of what prosecutors say was a suicide video intended to be seen after his Ali's death.
In it, Ali says he wanted to "punish and humiliate" unbelievers and "teach them a lesson they will never forget."
Ali dismissed the video as propaganda, saying he wanted to combine it with footage from the Internet to make an anti-government documentary, which would then be distributed on YouTube. The bomb blast, he said, would help publicize the movie.
"We thought: If we make a documentary how are we going to get everyone to see it and know about it? That is when we thought we would do a publicity stunt," he said. But he also said he wanted to make the bomb serious enough to cause "general concern."
"If we are going to make threats there is no point doing it with a firecracker, you have got to do it with credibility," he said.
Ali said he hoped the documentary would help sway the British public's attitude toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he called "totally illegal and criminal."
Prosecutors say Ali had a computer memory stick which stored vast amounts of detail on daily air services from London to North America, adding that he and his coconspirators did not seem interested in return flights.
But Ali denied ever even thinking about blowing up an airplane.
"I never had any intention of murdering anyone or injuring anyone," he said. "At no stage did I ever even think of going on an airplane or causing an explosion there."