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Britain extradites terror suspect to U.S. to face trial in New York

January 03, 2013|By Janet Stobart

LONDON -- Abid Naseer, a terror suspect alleged to be part of an Al Qaeda plot to blow up targets in the United States, Norway and Britain, was put on a plane Thursday afternoon to face trial in New York next week.

In a terse statement, Britain’s Home Office confirmed that “Abid Naseer was extradited to America, where he is accused of terrorism offenses. His case is now a matter for the U.S. authorities.”

Naseer, a 26-year-old Pakistani who arrived in Britain on a student visa, was first arrested in Manchester in 2009, along with 11 other Pakistanis, in police raids on suspected terrorism cells in northern England.

A search of documents, photos and emails in his possession found messages with references to weddings and meetings with girlfriends, believed to be code for terrorism plans. Based on that evidence, Naseer was suspected by British prosecutors and police to be part of a conspiracy to blow up targets in central Manchester. 

However, prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to put him on trial and were blocked by human rights laws from deporting him back to Pakistan because he would risk being tortured there while in custody.

In July 2010, a U.S.-based inquiry uncovered evidence of his alleged involvement in a wider plot with American-based Al Qaeda operatives to plant explosives in the New York subway system. Prosecutors demanded his extradition for trial in the United States.

Naseer’s lawyers tried to block the extradition, and his case was referred to the European Court of Human Rights, which last month ruled that Naseer could be extradited.

The U.S. has accused Naseer of providing “support to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically Al Qaeda,” and “conspiracy to use a destructive device during and in relation to one or more crimes of violence,” the last carrying a sentence of life in prison. 

He is expected to appear in a New York court Monday.

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