Al Qaeda Agent Convicted in Shopping Mall Plot Gets 40 Years

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Man who plotted to bomb popular Manchester shopping centre jailed for 40 years.

Abid Nasser, 29, was found guilty of planning to carry out the terrorist attack in Manchester and an attack on the New York Subway, a New York attorney said. Naseer, who was living in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester at the time, planned to use a vehicle bomb to blow up the shopping centre on the busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend in 2009. Naseer made a bizarre plea to serve his sentence in the UK, citing his love of Premier League football team Manchester City as a reason for him to be allowed to return to Britain. Abid Naseer, 29, had faced up to life in prison following his conviction by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, in March on charges including that he provided material support to the Islamic militant group.

He planned to detonate the bomb outside the Next store, less than 300 feet away from where the IRA struck in 1996, and then use a second device to kill more shoppers as they ran for safety in nearby Market Street. Prosecutors called it one of the most serious terror plots since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, with Brooklyn’s Federal Court told that ‘hundreds of innocent men, women and children’ could have died had Naseer been able to go ahead with the bombings. The North-West Counter Terrorism Unit estimated that up to 90,000 people could have been killed in the attack with thousands injured, if the attack hadn’t been stopped just days before. District Judge Raymond Dearie, saying he was “not nor have I been a career criminal.” “I know you’re not what I’d say for lack of a better word a ‘typical’ criminal. In a statement, United States Attorney, Robert Capers, said: ‘This al Qaeda plot was intended by the group’s leaders and Naseer to send a message to the United States and its allies. ‘Today’s sentence sends an even more powerful message in response: terrorists who target the US and its allies will be held accountable for their violent crimes to the full extent of the law.’

Not in any sense of the word,” Dearie said. “You’re a terrorist.” Naseer was first arrested in April 2009 in a British anti-terrorism operation. Zazi testified at Naseer’s trial, supporting prosecutors’ claims that both men coordinated their plans through coded emails with an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan.

He even acted as his own lawyer throughout the trial, often referring to himself in the third person and portraying himself as a moderate Muslim who was falsely accused. Amid claims that he was a bookish, cricket-loving college student, he told the court that online messages he sent on Muslim dating websites were not secret communications to Al Qaeda. During the trial, five MI5 agents gave evidence wearing makeup and wigs to disguise their appearance and told how they had Naseer and his associates under surveillance for months. Amid bizarre scenes in court, the four male and one female agents appeared to modify their accents – one wore a fake beard and thick black glasses – as a minder looked on, also in disguise.

Naseer insisted the emails consisted only of harmless banter about looking for a potential bride after going to England to take computer science classes. Sentencing, Judge Dearie said he could not understand how an intelligent young man, who had been a ‘champion cricket player’ with a good life from a privileged and loving family could turn to terrorism. He added: ‘In the UK and the US when it comes to terrorism the only border that really counts is the border between good and evil and you are on the wrong side of that, Mr Naseer.’ FBI assistant director-in-charge Diego Rodriguez said that, rather than use the British education visa system to further his own life, Naseer exploited it ‘to take away the lives of many others in large numbers’. ‘Found guilty in a court of law, he has been spared the fate of death he wished upon others and will spend considerable time incarcerated in a country he and his co-conspirators failed to take down.’ Mr Rodriguez said the case highlighted the importance of ‘closely coordinated international law enforcement’ that has the ‘necessary authority and tools’ to undermine terrorist plots. Assistant US Attorney Zainab Ahmad said that if Greater Manchester Police had not stopped him then ‘hundreds if not thousands of people would be dead today’.

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