London A British man identified by U.S. officials as a senior al-Qaida figure pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to murder in a plot to bomb high-profile targets in the United States, including the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington and the New York Stock Exchange.
"I plead guilty," Dhiran Barot, 34, said in a clear voice at London's high-security Woolwich Crown Court.
Prosecutors said the plot involved targets in Britain and the United States. Other alleged targets included the World Bank headquarters in Washington, the Citigroup building in New York and the Prudential building in Newark, N.J.
Barot, a British citizen who was raised a Hindu before converting to Islam, was arrested in August 2004 amid a heightened security alert for financial institutions in the United States. Seven other men are due to face trial next year.
Prosecutor Edmund Lawson said Barot planned "to carry out explosions at those premises with no warning. They were plainly designed to kill as many people as possible."
U.S. officials claim Barot is a senior al-Qaida figure, known variously as Abu Eisa al-Hindi, Abu Musa al-Hindi and Issa al-Britani, who scouted prominent financial targets in the United States at the behest of Osama bin Laden.
He was indicted last year in New York, with two others, on charges of plotting to attack the buildings.
Under British law, domestic legal proceedings take precedence over a U.S. extradition attempt.
In Britain, Barot planned to pack three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives and detonate them in underground parking garages, Lawson said.
The "gas limos" plan, found on a computer, was "described by Mr. Barot as the main cornerstone of attacks planned to take place in the U.K.," Lawson said.
He said the "back-to-back" attacks involved three other projects, including "the rough presentation for radiation or dirty-bomb projects."