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Man jailed for Manchester bomb plot

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Pakistani-born Abid Naseer who plotted to bomb Manchester's Arndale Centre has been jailed in the US.

A man who plotted to bomb Manchester’s Arndale Centre on one of its busiest weekends has been jailed in the US.

Pakistani-born Abid Naseer, 29, was sentenced to 40 years prison on Tuesday after he was found guilty of planning to carry out the failed UK bombing as well as a terrorist attack on the New York Subway.

Naseer, who was directed and commissioned by al-Qaeda to attack Manchester, had come to the city from Peshawar, Pakistan, on a student visa in November 2008 and was at the head of a UK-based cell.

Prosecutors in New York said the British plot had been part of a broader al-Qaeda conspiracy calling on other cells to attack civilians in New York and the Danish Embassy.

While living in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, he had conspired to use a potential vehicle bomb to blow up the city’s shopping centre on Easter Bank Holiday weekend in 2009, the court heard.

Naseer was due to detonate the bomb outside retail store Next in a car, which was less than 100 metres from where the IRA struck in 1996.

He was to then use a secondary device to kill and injure more shoppers as they fled the centre into nearby Market Street.

Five British MI5 agents gave evidence in disguise during the trial in New York.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, of North West Counter-Terrorism Unit, said: “A sentence of 40 years, we believe, is a fitting punishment for a man who came so close to carrying out what would have been one of the horrific terrorist acts seen in the UK since 7/7 bombings.

They planned to strike on Easter weekend, the second busiest shopping day of the year, when between 40 000 and 90 000 people would have been in the targeted areas throughout the weekend.”

FBI assistant director-in-charge Diego Rodriguez said rather than use the British education visa system to further his life, Naseer exploited it “to take away the lives of many others in large numbers”.

The Independent

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