Abid Naseer is on trial in New York on terror charges and is accused of planning 9/11 style attacks on targets in Britain, the US and Denmark

February 18, 2015 8:04 am

is on trial in on terror charges and is accused of
planning 9/11 style attacks on targets in , the and .

A Pakistani man plotted to blow up Manchester’s Arndale shopping
centre as part of a global plan to repeat the “devastation of 9/11”,
with attacks on targets in Britain, the US and Denmark, a court in New
York heard yesterday.
Abid Naseer, who was arrested in the UK in
2009 and later released without charge, headed a terror cell located in
Manchester according to prosecutor Celia Johnson.
She said he was
part of an al-Qaeda infiltration of Western society. “That was the
whole point of the Western operatives,” Ms Johnson told the court. “They
knew how to blend in and conduct reconnaissance and pick the best
target. [Their goal] was to repeat the devastation of 9/11.”
Details
of the alleged international terror plot were revealed at the start of a
trial that will see M15 agents give testimony wearing wigs and make-up
in order to protect their identities.

Mr Naseer, 28, was one of 12 people arrested in Britain
amid suspicion they were members of an al-Qaeda-backed terror cell. At
the time, the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the plan as a
“very big terrorist plot”.
As it was, when no explosives were
found and the Crown Prosecution Service was unable to collect sufficient
evidence, the men were released without being charged but ordered to
leave the country.
Mr Naseer avoided being sent to Pakistan after
arguing that he would be mistreated there. He was eventually deported
to the US in January 2013 after prosecutors announced they wanted to
charge him with trying to blow up the New York subway and Manchester’s
Arndale shopping centre.
Mr Naseer has denied the charges and
said that he wanted to represent himself in court. He said that the time
he spent on Muslim internet sites like Qiran.com was part of his quest
to find a bride.
Denying that he was a member of al-Qaeda, Mr
Naseer referred to himself in the third person and said on Tuesday: “He
has no extremist or jihadist views.”
The trial of Mr Naseer,
which is expected to take a number of weeks, is significant for many
reasons, not least the efforts by the authorities in the US to bring him
to trial.
The hearing will be the first to include evidence
discovered in the Abbottabad compound of Osama bin Laden by US special
forces who flew into Pakistan and killed the al-Qaeda leader in the
spring of 2011.
A US judge ruled last month that six agents who
conducted surveillance on Mr Naseer in Manchester could protect their
identities after hearing they still worked on sensitive undercover
cases. US District Judge Raymond Dearie also said the agents could wear
light make-up and be identified using numbers rather than their real
names.
Prosecutors introduced testimony from the first of two
witnesses, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, who both pleaded guilty
to taking part in a thwarted plot to detonate home-made explosives in
the New York subway.
Prosecutors claim that email account evidence shows all three men were under the direction of the same al-Qaeda handler.
The
Associated Press said Mr Naseer objected several times when Mr Zazi, a
former New York resident, gave his evidence. One of his interventions
was to object to the introduction of a photograph of bin Laden.
“I
agree with you that this case is not about 9/11,” Judge Dearie told Mr
Naseer during a break. The judge decided, however, that Mr Zazi should
be able to refer to bin Laden in describing how he became radicalised.
In
a lengthy written statement submitted during the deportation
proceedings, Mr Naseer claimed to come from a moderate Muslim family
that stressed education.
He said he went to Britain to get a
degree in computer science, not to attack the West. “Committing
terrorist acts is not justified and I do not consider this to be jihad,”
he added. “I believe in spiritual jihad.”The trial continues.

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