Airline Employee Plotted With Al-Qaeda Leader, Prosecution Says

Man denies plane plot, pleaded guilty to other terrorism charges.

ByABC News
February 1, 2011, 9:28 PM

Feb. 2, 2011 — -- Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born radical cleric and high-profile member of al-Qaeda, attempted to coordinate an attack on a U.S.-bound airplane with the help of a British Airways insider, prosecutors said in a British court Tuesday.

Bangladeshi national Rajib Karim, a former British Airways employee, is on trial in England for terror-related charges after prosecutors say he plotted with al-Awlaki in 2010 to carry out both cyber and physical attacks against British Airlines passengers, including potentially bringing down a trans-Atlantic flight.

"The defendant was anxious himself to carry out such an attack and he was determined to seek martyrdom - to die and to sacrifice himself for his cause," prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said Tuesday, according to the BBC.

Karim pleaded guilty to three terror-related charges, but denied others, including the accusation he plotted to bring down any flights, Laidlaw told the court. Karim, who worked at a call center in Newcastle, England, applied for cabin crew training but was told he didn't have enough experience, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said in open court Tuesday that Karim joined the British airline in 2007 with the intention to carry out terrorist activities from the inside. Karim denied that claim.

In correspondences between Karim and his brother read aloud in court today, Karim reportedly said he had no doubts "whatsoever" that the civilians he lived and worked around were legitimate targets for attack.

"And the more I am mixing with them, the more my conviction is getting stronger [by Allah]," Karim wrote, according to prosecutors.