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British Airways IT worker found guilty of plotting terror attack

Encrypted emails aired after 9 month brute force crack

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An IT expert for British Airways has been found guilty of using his position to plan a terrorist attack on behalf of the Yemen-based radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, according to news reports.

Rajib Karim, 31, of Newcastle, used his job as a software engineer for the UK airline to aid attacks being planned by Awlaki, who is accused of having links to the to the attempted shoe-bombing of a plane over Detroit on Christmas 2009. The plot came to light after experts from the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command spent nine months cracking 300 encrypted emails found on Karim's hard drive.

“Our highest priority is the US,” Awlaki wrote in one email to Karim that was sent in February 2010, The Guardian reported. “Anything there, even on a smaller scale compared to what we may do in the UK would be our choice. So the question is with the people you have is is it possible to get a package or a person with a package on board a flight heading to the US?”

A privately educated IT expert from the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, Karim took a post-graduate post with BA in 2007. Shortly after that, he held secret meetings with fellow Islamic extremists at Heathrow Airport. In 2009, he began an email correspondence with Awlaki from Karim's home in Brunton Lane. Prosecutors said Karim used his access to BA offices in Newcastle and at Heathrow to spread confidential information.

He also tried to enroll as a member of the cabin crew and may have been planning to crash BA's computer systems in an attempt to wreak havoc, prosecutors said.

Additional coverage from the BBC is here. ®

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