terror suspects
Clockwise from top left: Mohibur Rahman, Khobaib Hussain, Tahir Aziz and Naweed Ali have been found guilty of terror offences West Midlands Police

Members of a terrorist cell who referred to themselves as the 'Three Musketeers' while plotting to attack the UK have been found guilty.

The trio – Mohibur Rahman, 32, Khobaib Hussain, 25 and Naweed Ali, 29 – were convicted of plotting to commit a "Lee-Rigby style" attack using bombs and knives on the streets of the UK following a trial at the Old Bailey, which was partly held in secret.

The gang were hoping to target police and British military personnel between May and August last year.

The three men were found guilty along with a fourth defendant, 38-year-old Tahir Aziz.

The men were arrested last August after MI5 agents uncovered a pipe bomb and meat cleaver hidden in a JD Sports bag after surveying Ali's car.

A roll of gaffer tape, gloves and shotgun cartridges were also found in the car, together with an imitation handgun.

During the trial, the jury heard how on the morning oh his arrest, defendant Rahman had watched videos of Justin Bieber and One Direction on YouTube, as well as footage of Isis beheadings and interviews with the head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Songs and poems were found on Ali and Rahman's laptops celebrating the use of violence, as well as evidence of them viewing and sharing extremist images, messages and material.

The court also also heard how Rahman had previously met with MI5 agents in the VIP area of football team Stoke City's ground as they attempted to persuade him to spy on radical preacher Anjem Choudary, which he refused to do.

Ali, Rahman and Hussain had referred to themselves as the "Three Musketeers" while communicating via encrypted messaging service app Telegram. The group's messaging profile photo even had popular Disney cartoons portraying the literary characters.

three musketeers
The group’s Telegram profile imagWest Midlands Police

Ali and Hussain had both previously served prison sentences for terrorism offences after pleading guilty in 2012 to engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts. In a separate investigation, Rahman was also convicted of terrorism offences in 2012 after pleading guilty to possessing articles for terrorist purposes.

Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "These are dangerous men who seem committed to carrying out an attack. The nature of this investigation demonstrates that the police together with our partners must stay one step ahead and that we must be ambitious in our tactics to be able to defeat the terrorist threat to our communities.

"This group carefully planned and took steps to avoid drawing attention to themselves. They were surveillance aware and even left their mobile phones at home when they travelled to Stoke.

"This investigation illustrates the joint work that is carried out in conjunction with MI5, together we have been able to foil a plot that would resulted in loss of life."