Manchester bomb plotter Abid Naseer found guilty in US
Man who planned to bring 'carnage' to the Arndale Centre was arrested in UK but later released
Abid Naseer, a 28-year-old Pakistani man who was living in Britain, has been found guilty in a US court of participating in an al-Qaeda plot to blow up Manchester's Arndale Centre.
Prosecutors said he planned to detonate a car bomb outside a glass-fronted branch of Next in April 2009 and station individual suicide bombers at exits to kill Easter shoppers and bring "carnage" to the city.
Naseer was arrested by British police, along with nine other suspects, in 2009 but was released due to "very limited" evidence. In 2013, he was extradited to stand trial in the US, where he may now face life in prison.
During the trial in New York, undercover MI5 agents gave evidence wearing wigs and make-up to protect their identities. The court was also shown a key document recovered from Osama bin Laden's home, which included details about a group of "brothers" who had been sent to the UK. "The brothers did not face any security problems other than what was mentioned on the news a few days ago about the arrest of several individuals in Britain," it stated.
The document was written just a few days after Naseer and nine other suspects had been arrested in Manchester and Liverpool.
Naseer, who arrived in Britain on a student visa, plans to appeal against the verdict.
Retired Detective Chief Inspector Allan Donoghue, who investigated the plot in the UK, said the British police command team believed there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Naseer in 2009.
The Crown Prosecution Service's decision to let him walk free had potentially endangered the public, said Donoghue. "He was a threat. He was a risk. He had the potential to kill people," he told the BBC.
However, a CPS spokesman said the evidence was "very limited". He added: "Crucially, there was no evidence of training, research or the purchasing of explosives. We had no evidence of an agreement between Abid Naseer and others which would have supported a charge of conspiracy in this country."