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‘Three Musketeers’ terrorist gang jailed for life

They plotted a Lee Rigby-style attack with large knives and a bomb.

Terrorists who dubbed themselves the Three Musketeers have been jailed for life for plotting a Lee Rigby-style attack with large knives and a bomb.

The gang, from the West Midlands, sought out infamous Islamic State supporter Anjem Choudary before they prepared to strike police and military targets on British soil.

They were arrested in August last year after MI5 went to bug the car of Naweed Ali, only to uncover a pipe bomb and meat cleaver hidden in a JD Sports bag.

Convicted terrorists Ali, 29, Khobaib Hussain, 25, and Mohibur Rahman, 33, who served time together behind bars, denied preparing an attack.

They claimed the incriminating evidence was planted by undercover police officer Vincent, the boss of a fake firm called Hero Couriers.

Vincent was cross-examined over 12 days and repeatedly rejected the allegations against him. He also described them in a private message as “the usual bollox”.

Jurors at the Old Bailey agreed with him and, after deliberating for more than 22 hours, unanimously convicted the men of preparing terrorist acts.

Late recruit Tahir Aziz, 38, who was found with a large sword stashed in his car, was also found guilty.

After they were convicted on Wednesday, Rahman shouted out: “I hope you’re happy with your lies. Lying scumbags.”

Ali, Hussain, and Rahman refused to leave Belmarsh Prison to attend the sentencing hearing.

Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones told the court that the defendants, who were influenced by the lorry attack in Nice in the south of France, were probably planning to use their cars as weapons as well as the knives and pipe bomb, which was partially complete.

Ali, Rahman and Hussain were told to served a minimum term of 20 years for their “significant role” in the planned attack. Aziz was given a minimum term of 15 years for his lesser part.

Following the sentencing, Gareth Peirce, lawyer for Ali and Hussain, released a statement expressing “profound concern that the jury in this case has got it wrong”.

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Solicitor Gareth Peirce said there were "disturbing echoes" of the Birmingham pub bombing convictions in 1974 (PA)

She said: “Recent history is quickly forgotten, yet the present case carries disturbing echoes for us of the case of the six innocent Irishmen, also from Birmingham, wrongly convicted of the bombing of two Birmingham pubs in 1974.

“The impact of the bombings themselves continues to this day but so too does the impact of the police evidence on which the convictions were based – found 16 years later to be evidence created by police manipulation and fabrication that had been successfully suppressed.”

The lawyer added: “Whilst that is indeed the outcome of the case at present, if defendants have been wrongly convicted, there is necessarily the potential for a shift of comprehension, or the triggering of conscience on the part of one individual.

“We place on record today our belief that this can be achieved.”

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