The plotters had the means, the will and the know-how to carry out mass murder, in what police said could have been the biggest terror attack on the UK mainland “in a generation”.
Detective Inspector Adam Gough said the men were “the real deal” and, if successful, would have perpetrated “another 9/11 or another 7/7”.
The investigation, known as Operation Examine/Pitsford, was the 450-strong counter-terror unit’s largest ever, and it resulted in 12 arrests. Police evidence-gathering involved 24-hour surveillance and the bugging of the men’s safe house.
By 16 September, 2011, the three men were “experimenting with chemicals and home-made explosive”, and police acted.
Late on 18 September, officers swooped on the men’s car when it drove along a suburban street as they were heading out to get takeaway food. All three were arrested, and in the next two hours, 14 warrants were carried out on addresses across Birmingham.
Among the addresses raided was the safe house, where further evidence of the men’s attempts to make a bomb was recovered, including a sports injury cool pack that Naseer mistakenly believed would contain ammonium nitrate – a key bomb-making ingredient.