Briton guilty of plotting bomb attack in Manchester

Abid Naseer, 28, accused of being an al-Qaeda operative, defended himself in front of a New York jury. Picture: AP

Abid Naseer, 28, accused of being an al-Qaeda operative, defended himself in front of a New York jury. Picture: AP

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A MAN accused of plotting to bomb a shopping centre in Manchester and the subway in New York City has been found guilty by a US jury.

Abid Naseer, 28, who acted as his own lawyer during the trial in New York and had pleaded not guilty to the charges, faces a possible life sentence.

Prosecutors said the British plot was part of a broader al-­Qaeda conspiracy calling on other cells to attack civilians in New York and Denmark.

During the trial, four MI5 agents – who were disguised using make-up – described weeks of surveillance they conducted on Naseer in 2009, including movements to and from an Islamic centre and a cyber cafe.

Pakistani-born Naseer, who said he travelled to England to take computer science classes, was extradited from the UK to the United States in 2013.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole of Greater Manchester Police said: “Throughout his trial, a number of locations in Manchester were mentioned as potential targets for Naseer. I want to stress that these locations were part of a plot that is now six years old.

“There is no current intelligence or evidence to suggest any of these locations are under threat or at risk of a terrorist attack.

I want shoppers and residents to be reassured by that and ­continue to use the shopping facilities in Manchester without fear or trepidation.”

He said Greater Manchester Police and the North West Counter Terrorism Unit continue to work “very closely” with shops in Manchester to ensure security and safety measures are in place.

“Of course, what this case does highlight is the need for everyone in Greater Manchester – not just the police – to be vigilant and combat terrorism. And although terrorist attacks are very rare, the threat such an attack could pose to the cohesion of our communities is enormous,” he said.

“That is why tackling radicalisation both here in Manchester and from those who travel abroad and return to the UK is an absolute priority for us.”

Mr Mole said that in 2009 the North West Counter Terrorism Unit arrested Naseer following “credible intelligence about a potential plot to carry out a terrorist attack in Greater Manchester”.

He said: “There are times when we receive credible intelligence about a potential terrorist attack when we have to act immediately to stop any terrorist atrocity and protect people’s lives. That is exactly what we had to do in 2009.

“Following our action, a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2009 who decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

“However, as our inquiries unfolded it became apparent Naseer was part of a bigger conspiracy to both plot and carry out terrorist attacks elsewhere.”

The jury reached the verdict in a Brooklyn court after beginning deliberations on Tuesday, and a date has not yet been set for ­sentencing.

After his extradition, Naseer pleaded not guilty to providing and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda and conspiring to use a destructive device.

He acted as his own lawyer throughout the trial, often referring to himself in the third person as he set about portraying himself as a moderate Muslim who was falsely accused.

“Abid is innocent,” Naseer said in closing arguments on Monday, adding: “He is not a terrorist. He is not an al-Qaeda operative.”

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