Terror suspect to face US court

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A UK-based terror suspect has decided to represent himself at a US trial.

Abid Naseer is expected to give an opening statement tomorrow in federal court in New York City.

The Pakistani defendant has pleaded not guilty to charges he was part of a conspiracy in 2009 to bomb a shopping centre in Manchester, England, and the subway in New York City.

Prosecutors say the trial will feature evidence seized during the Navy SEAL raid in 2011 that left Osama bin Laden dead. The jury also will hear testimony from undercover British intelligence officers who have been given permission to take the witness stand in disguises to conceal their identities.

If convicted, 28-year-old Naseer faces a possible life sentence. Two government witnesses expected to testify against him – Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay – pleaded guilty to the subway plot.

Prosecutors claim that email account evidence shows all three men were under the direction of the same al Qaida handler. They also say a document recovered during the bin Laden raid, now declassified, mentions Naseer and refers to the Manchester and New York schemes.

Other witnesses will include MI5 agents who conducted surveillance on Naseer while investigating the Manchester case. At a pretrial hearing, US District Judge Raymond Dearie approved the disguise request after prosecutors told him in court papers that the officers continue to work undercover on sensitive cases and “disclosure of their identities would pose a significant risk to their safety”.

The agents will testify using identification numbers rather than names and wearing wigs and make up, the papers added.

Naseer was one of 12 people arrested in Britain in April 2009 on suspicion they were members of an al Qaida-backed terror cell. After no explosives were found, the men were released without being charged but ordered to leave the country – a fate Naseer avoided after a judge ruled it was likely he would be mistreated if he were sent to Pakistan.

In a lengthy written statement submitted during the deportation proceedings, Naseer claimed to come from a moderate Muslim family. He said he went to Great Britain to get a degree in computer science, not to attack the West, he said.

“Committing terrorist acts is not justified, and I do not consider this to be jihad,” he said. “I believe in spiritual jihad.”

Authorities rearrested Naseer in July 2010 at the request of US prosecutors.

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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