Terror bomb plotters had Wootton Bassett as a target
Four men pleaded guilty on Wednesday at Woolwich Crown Court in London to charges of preparing for acts of terrorism by planning to bomb the Stock Exchange.
And among their possible targets discovered by police and MI5 were the crowds in High Street watching the soldiers killed in action being brought home through the town, the court heard.
North Wiltshire MP James Gray said he was not surprised that the town was a possible target.
“I think terrorist groups of that kind probably have long target lists,” he said. “While it is obviously worrying, at the same time it is perhaps not surprising it was a very high target at the same time.
“The fact nothing happened is a tribute to our excellent security forces and the police. Thank goodness nothing ever happened.”
The gang, which was led by Mohammed Chowdhury, 21, of East London, also had Parliament, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey and the US Embassy on their list, the court heard.
The group, which also included Shah Rahman, 29, from East London, and brothers Abdul Miah, 25, and Gurukanth Desai, 30, both from Cardiff, had been due to face a five-month trial, but changed their pleas. Five other men who had been seen in secret talks with the four men by surveillance teams admitted lesser charges at court on Wednesday.
President of the Royal Wootton Bassett branch of the Royal British Legion, Maurice Baker, who was among the people who organised the repatriations, said he had not expected the town to be a target.
“Islam have always said that they would never interrupt a funeral anywhere, that is part of their religious beliefs,” he said.
“In hindsight if we realised there was a danger there we would have felt very apprehensive.”
Maurice said police and security forces always made careful checks of the area before repatriations took place.
“Every time we had a repatriation the police dogs searched everything and the drain covers were filled,” he said.
All nine men will be sentenced tomorrow.