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Taliban bomb-maker jailed for 40 years for UK parliament plot

LONDON: A 28-year-old man was sentenced Friday to a minimum of 40 years in jail for making explosives for the Taliban and for plotting a knife attack at the Houses of Parliament in London.

Khalid Ali, from north London, was dramatically arrested by armed police on a street outside parliament in April 2017 with three blades tucked into his clothes.

He was moments from launching an attack on police, politicians or the military, England’s Old Bailey central criminal court in London heard during his trial last month.

The plumber was on Tuesday found guilty of preparing terrorist acts in Britain and two charges of possessing explosive substances with intent abroad.

On Friday, judge Nicholas Hilliard handed Ali three life sentences, to run concurrently: one for each charge.

He gave a minimum of 40 years for making improvised explosive devices for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan in 2012 and 25 years for the plot to kill in Britain.

“I am absolutely sure you were in Afghanistan. You were a valued member of a team making IEDs that were detonated in combat before January and July 2012,” Hilliard said.

The judge said the plotted attack in London was designed to attract “maximum publicity and instil terror”.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a very considerable risk of your committing offences of violence in the future and cause death or serious injury as a result.”

During the trial, prosecutor Brian Altman told jurors that Ali, who had returned to Britain from Afghanistan in late 2016, planned a “deadly terror attack at the very heart of this country’s democracy”.

Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon said he was “an incredibly dangerous individual”.

He had returned from a training camp in Afghanistan “with a determination to kill,” he added.

During his trial, the court heard Ali admitted involvement in making explosives in Afghanistan, even bragging he detonated more than 300 devices.

In November 2016, he was stopped at Heathrow Airport, interviewed by police and his fingerprints and DNA samples were taken.

The FBI in the United States subsequently matched his fingerprints to caches of explosives recovered by Afghan forces in 2012, and Ali was placed under surveillance in Britain.

The Old Bailey heard he was seen conducting reconnaissance at various sites around London in March and April last year, before making several purchases of knives.

Police moved in to arrest Ali on April 27 not far from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Downing Street office.

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