11:12am

Mon February 28, 2011
The Two-Way

British Jury Convicts Airline Worker In Bomb Plot

A London jury has convicted a former airline employee linked to U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki of plotting to blow up an airliner. Rajib Karim, 31, who worked as a computer specialist for British Airways, was arrested earlier this month.

As the AP reports:

Rajib Karim, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi man, was convicted of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks. He had already pleaded guilty to other, lesser, terrorism offenses.

Prosecutors say that Karim and al-Awlaki, who is believed to have been involved in attempted attacks on a plane over Detroit in 2009 and last year's ink-cartridge plot, wrote several emails to one another in which they discussed potential flaws in airline security.

The messages were "heavily encrypted," according to the AP. The Guardian reports that "It took nine months to crack the secrets of his home computer, with one detective comparing the encryption to "Russian dolls", where one layer was cracked only to reveal another."

In the messages, Karim spoke of potential allies who might help carry out an attack — a baggage handler, and a security guard. Awlaki also urged Karim to switch jobs and begin working on a flight crew so that he would have better access to planes and passengers.

The Guardian cites this email exchange from one year ago, when Awlaki wrote to Karim:

"Our highest priority is the US. Anything there, even on a smaller scale compared to what we may do in the UK would be our choice. So the question is with the people you have is it possible to get a package or a person with a package on board a flight heading to the US?"

A few days later Karim replied: "I do not know much about US I can work with the bros to find out the possibilities of shipping a package to a US-bound plane."

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