Four British terror suspects have admitted to plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange, while five more coconspirators pled guilty to related terrorism offenses, the BBC notes. The group pled guilty Wednesday after the judge promised that the leader would face no more than 18½ years in prison, with all the other plotters facing significantly less time. They will be released, however, after serving half of their sentences as is standard in Britain.
The prosecutor accepted the defendants' claims that they had not planned to kill anyone with their bombing campaign, although they had also included the mayor of London, two rabbis, and the U.S. embassy in their target list. "Their intention was to cause terror and economic harm and disruption. But their chosen method meant there was a risk people would be maimed or killed," said prosecutor Andrew Edis. Two of the plotters also discussed conducting a "Mumbai-style" shooting raid during the 2010 Christmas season.
The group of radical Islamists was inspired by American-born al-Qaida leader, Anwar al-Awlaki. Until his recent assassination, Awlaki was known for his online presence and his unlimited call to kill Americans and other Westerners, which he claimed did not require a fatwa, as killing Satan does not require permission.
"Our priority is, and always will be, the protection of the public," said Officer Stuart Osborne of the West Midlands Police's counterterrorism unit, after hearing of the guilty pleas.