A man accused of being a terror mastermind behind a plan to detonate bombs in Manchester, Copenhagen and New York has gone on trial today in the US. Abid Naseer is accused of being the ringleader of the UK-based conspiracy, to create a terror attack ‘second only to 9/11’.
The target for the attack is believed to have been the Arndale Shopping Centre, which had to be rebuilt after the IRA blew it up in 1996. The plans was to also target New York and Copenhagen, both of which have seen high profile Jihadi terror attacks in the past.
A former FBI agent who worked on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Manny Gomez, told ITV the potential damage by the plots was “devastating”. Mr Gomez said: “The impact, the terror that this would have created in these particular cities would have been devastating to those cities’ economies, to just the mindset of these people carrying on day to day.”
He continued: “It would have been huge, it would have been only second to 9/11 in terms of death, damage, devastation to the psyche of the people being affected by it, it would have been significant.”
Naseer is not the first person to go on trial over the case, with six people already having been found guilty by courts in New York. Prosecutors are expected to show he used known Al-Qaeda codes to communicate with the six who have already been convicted.
The case has shown the extent to which police are battling a global network, with operatives in multiple countries. Some of the evidence against Naseer is believed to have been found at the home of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
Naseer was arrested in 2009 in Manchester, where he was living on a student visa. He is originally from Pakistan but was extradited to America to face these charges in 2012. The case is being heard in New York because the UK has a treaty with the US allowing them to try anyone who attempts to use Britain as a staging post for attacks on America.
If he is convicted after his prison sentence he may be extradited to the UK to face charges here, before his final deportation to Pakistan.