By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Pakistani man was convicted on Wednesday on U.S. charges of conspiring with al Qaeda to bomb targets in Europe and the United States.
Abid Naseer, 28, was found guilty by a federal jury in Brooklyn of providing material support to al Qaeda and conspiring to use a destructive device.
Naseer remained expressionless as the jury returned the verdict after less than two days of deliberations. He faces life in prison.U.S. prosecutors said Naseer led an al Qaeda cell plotting to bomb a shopping center in Manchester, England, in April 2009.
The proposed attack was one of three plots affiliated al Qaeda cells were working on, along with attacks against the New York City subway system and a Copenhagen newspaper, prosecutors said.
Naseer was convicted nearly six years after he was first arrested in a British anti-terrorism operation. While British authorities never charged Naseer, he was later indicted in the United States and extradited in 2013.
Naseer represented himself at trial. The self-described semi-professional cricket player denied any affiliation with al Qaeda or any plot. His court-appointed legal adviser said he would appeal.
Naseer’s conviction came six days after a Manhattan federal jury convicted Khalid al-Fawwaz, a Saudi man prosecutors described as a close Osama bin Laden adviser, in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Two men, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, have pleaded guilty to U.S. charges stemming from the New York subway plot also linked to Naseer. A third, Adis Medunjanin, was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison.
At Naseer’s trial, Zazi’s testimony supported prosecutors’ claims that both he and Naseer, through emails, coordinated their plans with the same Pakistan-based al Qaeda facilitator.
Prosecutors said Naseer wrote in code in the emails, using women’s names for bomb ingredients and describing the attack as a wedding.
Prosecutors used never-before publicized documents seized from the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed bin Laden as part of their case against Naseer and testimony from British MI5 officers who conducted surveillance on him.
The MI5 officers testified anonymously, wearing wigs and makeup to protect their identities.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)