London: A UK-based Pakistani terror suspect, accused of leading an al Qaeda plot to set off bombs in the centre of Manchester, was today extradited to the US.
Abid Naseer has been described by a UK High Court judge as "an al Qaeda operative" who "poses a serious threat to the national security of the UK".
In December his case was thrown out of the European Court of Human Rights. This paved the way for his removal to the US where he is wanted on a number of terrorism charges, the BBC reported.
Naseer, 26, was arrested in 2009 along with 11 others in counter-terrorism raids in Manchester and Liverpool but no one has been charged by British prosecutors.
Eleven of the arrested men were Pakistanis, most of whom came to the UK as students. British intelligence services suspected they were part of an international al Qaeda plot directed from Pakistan and Abid Naseer was said to be the leader of the British end of the operation, the report said.
Suspicions were first aroused because of intercepted email exchanges between Naseer and an al Qaeda suspect in Pakistan known as "Ahmad".
Police made their arrests on 8 April after an email about a Nikkah (Islamic wedding ceremony) which was believed to have been code for the attack. It read "I met with Nadia family and we both parties have agreed to conduct the Nikkah after 15th and before 20th of this month."
Naseer maintains that he was looking for a wife, but a High Court hearing dismissed his explanation, saying "we are sure that email conveyed a sinister and alarming message".
The judge concluded that Naseer was "an al Qaeda operative who posed and still poses a serious threat to the national security of the United Kingdom" but that he could not be deported to Pakistan because there was a risk he would be tortured by the intelligence services there.
In July, 2010, the FBI announced it had charged Naseer and wanted to try him in New York. They allege he was part of an international terror plot which also included a thwarted suicide attack on the city`s subway.
Naseer was charged with providing material support for a foreign terrorist organisation and conspiracy to use a firearm. David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said: "these charges underscore the global nature of the terrorist threat we face."
The removal of Naseer follows three months after Abu Hamza al-Masri, Babar Ahmad and three other terrorism suspects were finally extradited to the US after years of legal wrangling.
They will stand trial later this year. If convicted, Naseer faces a possible life sentence in a maximum security prison, the report said.