'Three Musketeers terror cell' busted by undercover MI5 agent - UPDATE

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Members of a terror cell that dubbed themselves the "Three Musketeers" have been found guilty of plotting a Lee Rigby-style attack following a partly-secret trial at the Old Bailey.

Naweed Ali, 29, Khobaib Hussain, 25, of Birmingham, and Mohibur Rahman, 32, were convicted after the jury deliberated for 22 hours.

A fourth man, Tahir Aziz, 38, from Stoke-on-Trent, was also found guilty of preparing terrorist acts.

The court heard the men from the Midlands were poised to strike police and military targets on British soil but were foiled by undercover MI5 agents.

They had collected a small arsenal including a half-made pipe bomb and a meat cleaver with the word 'Kafir' etched into the blade, and used a Musketeers image from the Disney cartoon movie as a logo on encrypted Telegram messages.

Hussain and Ali had already been convicted of terrorist offences after they went to training camps in Pakistan, according to Metro. They were snared a second time after security services set up a delivery firm called 'Hero Couriers.'

The firm rented premises in Birmingham city center and hired Hussain for £100 pounds a day - even issuing him with a t-shirt and high-visibility vest bearing the company logo - as he was dispatched on jobs around the country.

An undercover officer known only as 'Vincent' spotted Hussain carrying a drawstring JD Sports bag, which was later found in Ali's car in Birmingham.

In the bag was the meat cleaver and half-made pipe bomb. Other items included an air pistol imitation handgun with an empty magazine taped to the side of it, 11 more shotgun carriages, a live unfired 9mm bullet, a roll of gaffer tape and a pair of black latex gloves.

The bag prompted a major security alert in the area around Florence Street. The city went into lockdown with the Army's bomb squad tasked with making sure the bomb would not explode.

When the three men were arrested they denied knowledge of the bag and claimed 'Vincent' had planted it to frame them.

Prosecutors said the defendants shared the "same radical belief in violent jihad" and were planning a knife rampage that could be executed "imminently."

Comment: The 3 Musketeers have been sentenced to life in prison:
Naweed Ali, 29, Mohibur Rahman, 33, Khobaib Hussain, 25, and Tahir Aziz, 38, were found guilty of planning a "mass casualty attack."

When police officers apprehended the plotters in August last year, they discovered a partially assembled pipe-bomb and a meat cleaver that the terrorists planned to use in their attack.

Justice Globe, delivering the sentence, said it was only due to the prompt reaction of undercover law enforcement agents that the terrorist attack was prevented. Otherwise, it would have resulted in a "considerable loss of life," he said.

The purpose of the terrorist plot was "to kill or injure and cause terror"and "to promote an anti-Western ideology."

The gang, who were guided by a "long-standing, radical, violent ideology," refused to appear in court for their sentencing.

Ali, Hussain and Rahman, who were the key plotters and would be executioners of the attack, all received life sentences with a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Aziz was given a minimum term of 15 years in prison.

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