Naweed Ali, 28, and Khobaib Hussain, 24, both of Sparkhill in Birmingham, and Mohibur Rahman, 32, and Tahir Aziz, 37, of Stoke-on-Trent, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with terror offences.
They are accused of holding meetings, communicating via social media and buying disposable mobile phones to plan a terror attack.
It is also alleged that inside a car linked to one of the suspects, a bag was discovered which included a firearm, ammunition and a meat cleaver.
The men were arrested on August 26 by the West Midlands Police counter-terrorism unit and were charged after two weeks of questioning.
They have been charged with preparing for terrorist acts, contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorist Act, between May 26 and August 27.
A fifth man, aged 18, who was also arrested last month, has been released without charge. The group were remanded in custody and will appear at the Old Bailey on September 19.