Four men who styled themselves as the “musketeers” and plotted a knife and bomb attack have been sentenced to life in prison.
Naweed Ali and Khobaib Hussain from Birmingham, and Mohibur Rahman and Tahir Aziz from Stoke-on-Trent were found guilty of preparing terrorist acts.
Ali, 29, Hussain, 25, and Rahman, 33, were given life sentences and ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars.
Aziz, 38, was also sentenced to life in jail, with a minimum term of 15 years due to his lesser part in the plot.
He was the only one of the four men in the dock as the sentences were announced and was said to be “devastated” at being found guilty.
The four men were arrested in August last year after counter-terror police found a pipe bomb described as “viable” in one of the group’s car.
They denied preparing an attack, claiming that the evidence was planted by an undercover police officer called Vincent, the boss of a fake firm called Hero Couriers.
During Ali’s first day working at the firm last August, police went to bug his car and found the bomb alongside ammunition, an imitation handgun and a meat cleaver with the word “kafir” – meaning non-believer – scratched into the blade.
Jurors at the Old Bailey agreed with the police account of events and convicted all three men of preparing terrorist acts.
West Midlands Police have been unable to identify where the men had planned to detonate the bomb.
During sentencing Mr Justice Globe noted that the trial came amid four separate attacks in Britain.
He said: “These attacks demonstrate in stark form the carnage that can be created by different types of terrorist attack that can be carried out with a vehicle, explosives and loaded weapons.
“I am satisfied from the evidence and the jury verdicts, but for the intervention of the counter terrorism unit of West Midlands Police and the security services, there would have been not dissimilar terrorist acts in this country using at the very least the explosives and or one or more bladed weapons.”
Ali, Hussain and Rahman met inside HMP Belmarsh in southeast London, where they were serving time for terrorist-related convictions.
Azir, who was found with a large sword stashed in his car, was recruited to the plot later.
The group sought out Islamic State supporter Anjem Choudary before planning to strike police and military targets in the UK.