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British Airways employee faces terrorism charges

Artist's sketch shows Rajib Karim in court on Thursday.
Artist's sketch shows Rajib Karim in court on Thursday.
  • 30-year-old BA employee appears in court on terror charges
  • Rajib Karim employeed by BA as an information technology developer
  • Authorities allege he sent money to Yemen and Bangladesh to fund terrorist activities
  • Police learned about alleged activities from encrypted data on his home computer

London, England (CNN) -- A British Airways employee accused of funding terrorism and planning suicide bombings -- including his own -- appeared in court Thursday.

Prosecutor Colin Gibb called the suspect, Rajib Karim, "a very dangerous individual, facing very serious offenses and likely to face a serious term of imprisonment."

Authorities said Karim -- who was born in Bangladesh and is now a British citizen -- collected money in Britain and sent it to Yemen and Bangladesh to fund terrorist activities.

British authorities believe he had significant success in financing terrorist operations, security sources with knowledge of the case told CNN.

Video: Alleged bomber meticulous

He volunteered to recruit suicide bombers and to be one himself, prosecutors said in court. He said he would go to Yemen or Pakistan for training, they charged.

Karim, 30, is charged with two counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and fundraising for the purpose of terrorism, London's Metropolitan Police Service said Wednesday. He appeared in Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

Karim, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is an information technology developer for British Airways, authorities have said.

The alleged offenses took place between April 13, 2006, and February 25, 2010, "with the intention of committing acts of terrorism outside the UK or assisting another to commit such acts," police said.

Karim did not speak during the 15-minute court hearing except to confirm his name and date of birth, November 4, 1979. He wore a black fleece pullover zipped up to the neck and white trousers, and appeared impassive throughout the hearing.

He did not enter a plea.

The hearing was intended only to outline the charges and discuss bail. Karim did not apply for bail. Prosecutor Gibbs had argued he should not be granted bail primarily because there was an ongoing investigation that could be impeded if Karim were released.

Police learned about his alleged activities from encrypted data on his computer at home, which was seized when he was arrested last month.

He used his position at British Airways to advise foreign terrorists on airport security measures, including suspicion scans, liquid allowances, and computer systems, prosecutors alleged.

He is also accused of offering to take advantage of a possible strike by British Airways crews. Prosecutors believe he advised his contacts that because of the industrial disputes he might have the opportunity to apply to join a cabin crew, giving him information on cabin crew training and on-the-job activity.

BA is planning to shuffle staff to cover positions left vacant if the strike goes ahead.

Authorities did not say who Karim was aiding or reporting to. They are investigating possible connections to terrorists in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Yemen, security sources told CNN.

Magistrate Judge Timothy Workman scheduled Karim's next hearing for March 26 at the Old Bailey in London.

CNN International Security Correspondent Paula Newton and producer Jonathan Wald contributed to this report.