US & Canada

International bomb plotter jailed for 40 years in US

Abid Naseer Image copyright Handout

A Pakistani man extradited from the UK to the US has been sentenced to 40 years in jail for plotting attacks in several countries.

Abid Naseer, 29, was sentenced by a federal judge in New York.

US authorities said he had been part of a plot to attack Manchester, New York City and Copenhagen.

In March, a jury found him guilty of providing material support to al-Qaeda and conspiracy to use a destructive device.

FBI assistant director-in-charge Diego Rodriguez said that Naseer, who moved to the UK to study, failed to use the British education visa system to make the best of his life.

Instead, he exploited it "to take away the lives of many others in large numbers", said Mr Rodriguez.

Naseer was first arrested in the UK in 2009, along with 11 other men, suspected of planning a bomb attack on the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester over the Easter weekend.

No explosives were found but the men were ordered to leave the country. Mr Naseer avoided deportation after a judge ruled it was likely he would not be safe if he returned to Pakistan.


Analysis - Laura Bicker, BBC News, New York

Abid Naseer says he's not guilty. He defended himself throughout the trial, but his legal advisers say they'll appeal - and not just against the sentence which they believe is overly harsh. They say this was not a fair trial and Naseer should have appeared in court in the UK, not in front of a jury in a post 9/11 New York.

But US prosecutors say the 29-year-old was capable of mass murder. They say he remains a threat and they're delighted by the sentence. They hope it sends a message to terrorists that they will be caught and they will be put behind bars for life.

Naseer appealed to the judge that he was not - nor had he ever been - a "career criminal". But Judge Raymond Dearie had a response.

"I know you're not," he replied. "You're a terrorist."


UK officials arrested him again in 2010 at the request of US prosecutors.

In 2013 he was extradited to the US, where prosecutors argued Naseer was part of a broader al-Qaeda conspiracy to attack various Western locations, including the New York subway system and a newspaper office in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Image copyright Other
Image caption The trial heard from MI5 operatives dressed in wigs and make-up

The US Department of Justice said the plots were "directed by and co-ordinated with senior al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan".

Evidence at Naseer's trial included a document found in the raid of the Bin Laden compound and MI5 officers testifying in wigs.

His defence was largely based on his own testimony and cross-examining prosecution witnesses.

Prosecutors brought in MI5 agents who had previously tracked Naseer in 2009 at a shopping centre in the UK.

They also relied on the testimony of two co-conspirators who pleaded guilty to the subway plot - Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay.

Prosecutors say coded emails show all three men were under the direction of the same al-Qaeda handler.

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