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Security sources claim terrorist cell was run by Birmingham based Al Qaida mastermind
A suspected Islamic terrorist accused of plotting attacks in the UK and the New York subway was being directed by a Birmingham Al Qaida mastermind, security sources claim.The allegation comes after the USA successfully applied for Pakistani student Abid Naseer to be extradited to face terror charges.
Naseer, 26, had originally come to Britain from his native Pakistan on a student visa to study in Manchester.
But US prosecutors believe they can prove Naseer was part of an Al-Qaida cell sent to the UK and US by former Alum Rock murder suspect Rashid Rauf, who planned for them to attack targets on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Americans claim Naseer had shopped for bomb ingredients, conducted reconnaissance and was in frequent contact with other al-Qaida operatives as part of a foiled plot to kill Easter shoppers at the Trafford and Arndale centres in Manchester in 2009, and a second suspected plot to blow up the New York subway.
An FBI source told the Sunday Mercury that investigators believe that both plots were directed by Birmingham baker’s boy turned terrorist Rauf, who had climbed the Al Qaida ranks to become a chief planner of its operations in the West.
He said: “It is highly likely that it was Rauf who briefed and sent the two teams to launch attacks in the US and the UK.
“Messages from Pakistan were remarkably similar in content and tone, suggesting they were emanating from the same person, namely Rauf, who had a very distinct and colloquially English style.”
Rauf is believed to have been killed by the CIA in a drone attack in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2008. He fled the UK to join Islamic terror groups in Pakistan in 2002 after being implicated in the murder of his uncle in Alum Rock.
Security service investigators believe he was a vital link for foreign Al Qaida recruits because of his Western background and upbringing.
The Portsmouth University drop-out is said to have been the point of contact for the London 7/7 bombers, as well as being implicated in several Al Qaida plots across Europe.
The US source said: “Evidence suggests Rauf was directing a terror cell in the US which was eventually smashed after it was discovered they were planning to bomb the New York subway.
“Rauf was killed in late 2008 but by then the terror cells had been dispatched and briefed.”
After two years of legal arguments stalling his extradition, Naseer was finally taken from his cell at Belmarsh high security jail and put on a plane at Luton airport by officers from the Metropolitan police extradition unit last week.
Naseer was one of 12 people arrested in April 2009 in co-ordinated raids in Liverpool and Manchester after police uncovered the alleged Manchester plot. But all were released without charge because of lack of evidence.
They were ordered to leave Britain, but Naseer escaped deportation to Pakistan after a judge ruled it was likely he would be mistreated if he were sent home.
Naseer was re-arrested in July 2010 at the request of the prosecutors in Brooklyn where a federal indictment named him as a co-defendant with Adis Medunjanin.
In January 2011, a British judge approved Naseer’s extradition but acknowledged there was a “very real risk” Naseer would be tortured if the US ultimately returned him to Pakistan.
US authorities allege Medunjanin and his former high school friends Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay travelled to Pakistan in 2008 to seek terror training from al-Qaida.
Authorities say the trio were planning co-ordinated suicide bombings on Manhattan subway lines during rush hour near the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in what Zazi called a “martyrdom operation”.
The alleged plot was disrupted when police stopped Zazi’s car as it entered New York.
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