On Air Now
Heart Breakfast with Ed & Gemma 6am - 10am
Six Islamic extremists from Birmingham admitted plotting a deadly attack on a far-right rally which only failed by chance despite one of them being under surveillance.
The six admitted preparing an act of terrorism between May 1 and July 4 last year when they appeared at London's Woolwich Crown Court.
They had previously denied the charge but Jewel Uddin, 27, Omar Mohammed Khan, 31, Mohammed Hasseen, 24, Anzal Hussain, 24, Mohammed Saud, 22, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, changed their pleas.
They will be sentenced on June 6 with Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, the Recorder of Greenwich, warning them: ''This will attract significant custody. There is no doubt about that.''
The murderous plan targeting the English Defence League (EDL) fell apart because the gathering in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, finished earlier than expected.
Police and security services had no intelligence about the planned attack on June 30 last year, although Uddin was under surveillance in relation to another terrorist plan.
Ahmed was also on bail for possession of terrorist documents at the time of the plot.
All of the men except Hasseen travelled to the rally armed with two shotguns, swords, knives, a nail bomb containing 458 pieces of shrapnel, and a partially assembled pipe bomb, ready to cause mass injuries and deaths.
The nail bomb was an 18-inch (46cm) long rocket which was stuffed with shrapnel and was to be powered by explosives taken from at least two large fireworks.
Police estimated there could have been up to 750 EDL marchers at the Dewsbury event, but also dozens of officers and innocent passers-by.
The fanatics' plan failed by chance, because they arrived at 4pm when the rally had dispersed by 2pm.
The planned atrocity was only uncovered because a traffic officer stopped Uddin and Khan on the M1 as they travelled home to Birmingham.
Checks showed their Renault Laguna was uninsured, so the car was impounded.
Two days later staff at the pound near Sheffield looked at the contents of the Renault and found the gang's arsenal.
There were also 10 copies of a hate-filled note addressed to the enemies of Islam, the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron.
It said: ''This is a message to the enemies of Allah and his messenger. This is a message to the kafir (non-believer) female devil and self-proclaimed Queen Elizabeth and her accursed jubilee, fooling a nation of blind sheep to your self-proclaimed royalty and majesty.''
The document addressed the EDL directly, saying: ''Today is a day of retaliation (especially) for your blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad. We love death more than you love life. The penalty for blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad is death.
''What we did today was a direct retaliation of your insulting of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and also in retaliation of your crusade against Islam/Muslims on a global scale. It is of the greatest honour for us to do what we did.''
CDs of speeches by hate preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by an American drone in 2011, were also found.
Police and security services had Uddin under low-level surveillance in relation to another terrorist plot.
He was flagged up after his minor involvement with another group of terrorist plotters.
He was a bucket-shaker taking charity collections for the extremists, who planned to detonate up to eight rucksack bombs and possibly other devices on timers.
Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all from Birmingham, were convicted in February of planning the attack, which could have been bigger than the July 7 atrocities.
Four other men, including Anzal Hussain's brother Ishaaq, travelled to Pakistan for terror training as part of the plot, but were sent home when family members intervened.
Five days before the planned EDL rally attack, Uddin was seen with Khan going into a shop but officers did not follow them in to Home Choice in Sparkhill because contact would have been too close.
In fact they were going to buy the kitchen knives which were among the weapons that the gang planned to use.
All six extremists played five-a-side football together and went to the same gym at the Darul Ihsan Islamic centre, known as the Baker Street gym, where Saud and Hussain worked.
Police said they deliberately did not take their mobile phones with them on the day of the attack to try to avoid detection.
They had searched the internet for details of how much information detectives can glean from mobile phone data.
Marcus Beale, assistant chief constable with West Midlands Police and responsible for its Counter Terrorism Unit, said the six were extremely dangerous and could have maimed, killed and brought misery which would ``have transmitted fear and anxieties to our communities''.
He said: ''I am really pleased these six have pleaded guilty.
''They are clearly a radicalised group with extremely dangerous intent. Their intent was to recklessly cause mayhem and probably mass injuries.''
Mr Beale said of the terrorists: ''They have chosen to attack the EDL but their overall intent was much more in line with (the) jihadist threat.''
He said Birmingham authorities and politicians were pulling together with Muslim communities to prevent youngsters turning to extremism.
''I am really optimistic about the future,'' he said.
''`We have strong political leadership and a commitment from the communities to work forwards to take the sting out of the terror threat.''
Mr Beale responded to claims the police could have swooped on Uddin earlier, saying officers dealt with him according to the evidence and ''proportionately''.
''We didn't fail to join the dots,'' he said.
``We were doing what was right and proportionate at the time.''
The officer stressed investigators were acting within the boundaries of the law.
He added that the force had interrupted one attack each year since the 7/7 attacks on London, but stressed terror attack plans had ''massively increased''.
Hasseen also pleaded guilty to possessing a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism on July 3.
Tommy Robinson, EDL leader, called for indefinite jail sentences for those convicted of terror offences.
The six convicts had said their planned attack was ''retaliation'' against blasphemers.
Mr Robinson said freedom of speech was too important to sacrifice and people should be able to criticise Islam and other religions.
He added that he feared a successful UK terror attack would result in ''a defining moment'' and produce a reaction. ''God forbid it happening,'' he said.
''But I think we have our fingers on the pulse and if something like 7/7 happens this whole country is going to go up.''