Seized Bin Laden Text to Be Evidence in Pakistani's TrialChristie Smythe
A Pakistani who faces trial next month on charges that he aided an al-Qaeda terrorism plot was cited in a document seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound, prosecutors told a U.S. judge.
Abid Naseer, who was extradited from the U.K. in 2013, is scheduled to go on trial next month in Brooklyn, New York. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that a recently declassified document taken in the 2011 raid links Naseer to a foiled plot that included attacks in New York, Copenhagen and Manchester, England.
At a pretrial conference, U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie asked a prosecutor about a document seized from bin Laden’s compound that the government plans to offer as evidence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmad said one cites Naseer and refers to a failed 2009 plan to bomb New York’s subways and attack sites in Manchester. She said they were part of a “hub and spoke conspiracy,” a scheme in which several perpetrators work with a central mastermind.
Naseer, who is in U.S. custody, wants to represent himself at the trial. Witnesses may include plotters in the subway attack and six members of U.K. intelligence agency MI5, Ahmad said. To keep their identities’ secret, the agents may testify wearing makeup and wigs and won’t publicly disclose their names, she said.
Prosecutors say Naseer communicated with the same Pakistan-based al-Qaeda facilitator as the subway plotters and used similar code language to describe his plans.
In April 2009, when Naseer was working on the Manchester attack, he told the facilitator he was planning a large “wedding,” according to prosecutors. Around the same time, a subway attacker told the facilitator that “the marriage is ready,” the U.S. said. The subway attack was set to occur around the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks, prosecutors have said.
Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden in the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, took vast stores of documents and equipment, including hard drives and portable thumb drives.
Naseer, who denies wrongdoing, is accused of conspiring to use a destructive device and providing material support to al-Qaeda. He might be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
A New York man recruited by al-Qaeda, Adis Medunjanin, was jailed for life in 2012 after he was convicted in the subway plot.
The case is U.S. v. Medunjanin, 1:10-cr-00019, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).