Islamist Birmingham bomb gang plotting British mainland atrocity
PA (L-R) Naweed Ali, Khobaib Hussain & Mohibur Rahman were found guilty of preparing acts of terrorism
The gang, who called themselves the ‘Three Musketeers’, were plotting to strike police and military targets on British soil.
The trio were arrested last year after security services bugged one of the men’s cars, as well as uncovering a pipe bomb and a meat cleaver hidden in a JD Sports bag.
They used a Musketeers image from the Disney cartoon as a logo on encrypted Telegram messages as they prepared to bring carnage to UK streets.
Convicted terrorists Naweed Ali, 29, Khobaib Hussain, 25, and Mohibur Rahman, 33, had claimed the incriminating evidence was planted by an undercover officer known as Vincent, who posed as the boss of a fake firm called Hero Couriers.
The officer, who gave evidence anonymously, linked Hussain with the JD Sports bag, saying he carried a similar one on earlier visits to the fake firm's depot.
Vincent was cross-examined over 12 days and repeatedly rejected the allegations against him.
PA Tahir Aziz, 38, was also found guilty at the Old Bailey
PA A photo of the hatchet found in Ali's car, with the word Kafir, meaning non-believer, written on it
The court also heard that he described the claims in a private message as "the usual bollox".
Two of the defendants came from Stoke-on-Trent while other two were neighbours in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham.
However, the jury at the Old Bailey found all three guilty after deliberating for 22 hours.
The jury continued to deliberate on the fourth defendant Tahir Aziz, 38, but later found him guilty of preparing terrorist acts.
As they were led from the dock, one of the convicted men shouted out: "I hope you're happy with your lies. Lying scumbags."
PA Police uncovered a long sword in the footwell of Tahir Aziz's Ford Fiesta
PA The Three Musketeers profile picture of a Telegram chat group believed to have been used by the cell
Following the guilty verdicts, Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "Today's case was about four very dangerous extremists who were plotting to carry out a terror attack in the UK.
"Today the communities of the Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham should feel relieved that they are much safer with these four dangerous individuals now going to spend a long time behind bars."
He described the accusations against his team as "groundless", saying: "They went against the integrity of the undercover operatives, they went against the integrity of the wider investigation.
"I'm really proud of our officers; I'm particularly proud of our undercover operatives who were in an incredibly dangerous situation."
PA The men were covertly photographed in a park in the days before their arrest
It later emerged that the men may have met convicted hate preacher Anjem Choudary in the days before they began planning their attack.
Text messages not seen by the jury show Mohibur Rahman, 33, and Tahir Aziz, 38, planned to travel to see the radical cleric on May 8 last year.
That night at 11.46pm, Choudary sent a text message to Rahman, which read: "Dear brother did you reach home yet safe and sound?"
The figurehead of banned group Al-Muhajiroun was awaiting trial at the Old Bailey at the time for inviting support for ISIS. He was convicted and later jailed for five-and-a-half years.
The gang, led by former law student Hussain, met behind bars after previously being convicted of terror-related offences.
A police photograph of Mohibur Rahman (left) and Khobaib Hussain
Ali and Hussain were jailed for joining a terrorist training camp in Pakistan while Rahman, from Stoke, was in prison for possessing an al Qaida propaganda magazine which contained bomb-making instructions.
Family man and Primark salesman Aziz was keen not to be "left behind" but was only brought into the Three Musketeers plot days before the arrests.
Fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, was stabbed to death outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south London, in May 2013 while off duty.
Rigby's killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, were sentenced to life in prison in December 2013 after they were found guilty of his murder in 2013.