UK-based man in worldwide al Qaeda attack plot: Court

Abid Naseer is the alleged member of a terrorist cell based in Manchester.

London: A Pakistani man planned to bomb Manchester city centre in northern England as part of a wider al Qaeda plot to carry out attacks in Britain, the United States and Norway, a London court was told on Wednesday.

Abid Naseer was part of an al Qaeda cell operating in Britain whose participants planned to attack the northwestern English city, probably targeting a shopping centre, a lawyer representing the US authorities said.

"The allegation is that the defendant was an al Qaeda operative who participated in a conspiracy to attack Western interests by the use of explosive devices," lawyer David Perry told an extradition hearing in London.

"A wide international conspiracy was conceived by the al Qaeda external operations leader in Pakistan and the conspiracy extended to planning attacks in the UK, Norway and the United States of America."

City of Westminster Magistrates Court heard that Naseer was allegedly a member of an al Qaeda cell between September 2008 and April 2009 which planned to attack the busy St Ann`s Square or Arndale shopping centre in Manchester.

The bearded 24-year-old Pakistani, who spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth in court, is wanted by US authorities on allegations he provided material support to al Qaeda and conspired to use explosives.

He was one of 12 men, mostly students, arrested in counter-terrorism raids in northwest England last year over a suspected bomb plot.

All the men were released as there was insufficient evidence to charge them and they were ordered to be deported.

But in May, Naseer won the right to stay in Britain when a judge ruled his safety could not be guaranteed if he returned to Pakistan.

Edward Fitzgerald, representing Naseer, told the court that an extradition to the United States would violate his human rights as no assurances had been received that Naseer would not be subject to rendition by the US authorities.

District Judge Quentin Purdy said he would give his judgement on January 21 on whether or not Naseer should be extradited.


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