Vietnamese national and convert to Islam, Minh Quang Pham, was arrested in 2011 after a six-month training stint with al-Qaida in Yemen, where he was told to rent a home in the U.K. and buy chemicals to build an explosive belt awaits trial. He faces 50 years in prison.
A former employee at the McDonald’s at London’s Heathrow Airport was trained by top al-Qaida operatives to blow himself up next to Israeli and American tourists five years ago, Britain’s Sunday Times reported, quoting U.S. legal documents.
According to the report, Minh Quang Pham, 33, a Vietnamese national and a convert to Islam, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. He had reportedly received instructions from Anwar al-Awlaki, the former head of al-Qaida in Yemen who was killed in a drone attack in 2011, to put on an explosive belt and detonate himself in the vicinity of visitors.
An FBI investigation revealed that Pham had approached al-Qaida and expressed his desire to carry out a suicide bombing in the name of the organization. He trained in Yemen for six months. While there, he used his college degrees in graphic design and animation to edit videos and photos for propaganda in Inspire, an online magazine published by the organization Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, prosecutors said.
Pham was paid 6,000 euros ($6,800), with which he planned to rent a home in the U.K., where he was to buy chemicals and assemble a homemade belt. According to prosecutors, Awlaki told Pham to tape bolts to the bomb to serve as shrapnel and cause more damage.
The Heathrow plot was never carried out. Pham was arrested at the airport when he returned from Yemen in July 2011 and extradited to the U.S.
He is currently awaiting sentencing and faces a 50-year prison term.