A Pakistani man accused of helping al-Qaeda plot a series of attacks, including a failed attempt to bomb the New York subway, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in a U.S. court less than a week after losing an extradition fight in the U.K.
Abid Naseer, 26, was brought before U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn, New York, today, accused of providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.
Standing before the judge in a bright blue T-shirt, black pants and sneakers, Naseer entered his plea and didn’t contest a request from the government that he be denied bail. The next court date is scheduled for March 7.
U.S. prosecutors allege that Naseer was involved in planning a potential attack in Manchester, England, as part of a multinational conspiracy that may also have included the New York subway bomb plot. Neither attack was carried out.
The subway plot, uncovered in September 2009, involved Colorado resident Najibullah Zazi and was directed by senior al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Naseer communicated with the same Pakistan-based al-Qaeda facilitator as the New York subway plotters and used code language similar to theirs to describe his plans, the U.S. said.
In April 2009, when Naseer was working on the Manchester attack, he told the facilitator he was planning a large “wedding,” according to prosecutors. A subway bomb-plot suspect told the facilitator “the marriage is ready” not long before their intended attack, prosecutors said.
U.S. officials announced Naseer’s extradition from the U.K. to New York on Jan. 4. A British judge ruled a year ago that Naseer could be extradited, and he lost an appeal last month.
Naseer is one of 10 Pakistani nationals arrested by British police in Manchester and Liverpool in 2009 as part of a counter-terrorism operation. While U.K. security officials said at the time that the men were about to mount an attack, they weren’t charged.
In November, Adis Medunjanin, 28, was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court to the equivalent of two life terms in prison for planning the failed suicide bombing of the subway system, which was set to occur around the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The case is U.S. v. Medunjanin, 1:10-cr-00019, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).