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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Briton admits bomb plot against NY exchange

LONDON (Reuters) - A Briton arrested amid a massive U.S. security alert two years ago admitted in a London court on Thursday to plotting to blow up the New York Stock Exchange and carry out "dirty bomb" attacks in Britain.

Dhiren Barot, a Muslim convert, admitted to plotting to blow up the stock exchange and other U.S. financial hubs including the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Citigroup and Prudential in Washington, New Jersey and New York.

"Explosions at these premises were clearly designed to kill as many people as possible", said prosecuting lawyer Edmund Lawson.

Amid tight security at Woolwich Crown Court in South London, Barot pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and prosecutors outlined the details of his confession.

He admitted planning strikes on unspecified British targets in a conspiracy called the "Gas Limos Project", which "involved parking three limos with gas cylinders with explosives and detonating them in underground carparks," Lawson said.

Barot admitted another plan to detonate at least one "dirty bomb" contaminated with radiological material in Britain. The prosecution said Barot claimed the dirty bomb was not designed to kill but "rather to cause injury, fear terror and chaos".

The plans did not seem to have reached an advanced stage. The prosecution said it accepted Barot's assertion that no funding, vehicles or bomb making equipment had been in place.

"We are happy to confirm that because it's a true statement of fact," said Lawson.

Barot was arrested by British police in August 2004 after a massive security alert in the United States.

The U.S. Homeland Security Advisory level was raised to "high", police with assault rifles were posted at possible targets, barricades were erected and traffic into Manhattan via bridges and tunnels were restricted.

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