UK citizen jailed in US over plot to bomb Heathrow

A UK citizen has been jailed for 40 years in the US after a court found he had plotted to carry out a suicide bomb attack at Heathrow Airport.

Minh Quang Pham, 33, was sentenced in New York for supporting the terrorist organisation al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2011.

In January, Pham admitted three counts of terrorist-related activity based on his support for the group, Scotland Yard said, though he denied that he ever intended to carry out his plot or harm anyone. No attack ever occurred.

The former Vietnamese national was first arrested in the UK in June 2012 and was extradited to the US in early 2015.

Scotland Yard said its Counter Terrorism Command provided key evidence that helped shape the case against Pham, also known as Amin, and led to this successful prosecution.

He pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to AQAP, one count of conspiring to receive military training from AQAP and one count of possessing and using a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence.

Prosecutors say Pham was directed by al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki to detonate explosives in Heathrow's arrivals area.

District Judge Alison Nathan said Pham deserved an "exceptionally severe sentence" after he became a trusted asset for the terrorist group, working as a graphic artist on its magazine, Inspire, that was said to be used by the Boston marathon bombers to learn how to make bombs.

Prosecutors said he spent several months in Yemen, where he was trained by Al-Awlaki.

During the hearing Pham said he had made a "terrible mistake" that he regretted, sending a letter to the judge to say he renounced all acts of terrorism and extremist ideology.

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