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British police arrest terror suspect wanted in U.S.

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • U.S. requested extradition of suspect for supporting terrorists and plotting attack
  • Abid Naseer has been in and out of British courts for more than a year
  • Commission found earlier that Naseer, 24, was an al Qaeda operative
  • A court ruled against deporting him to Pakistan because of the risk of torture

London, England (CNN) -- British police arrested a terror suspect wanted by the United States, they announced Wednesday.

Abid Naseer, 24, was held Wednesday after the United States requested his extradition to face charges of supporting terrorists and plotting "to use a destructive device," London's Metropolitan Police announced.

He is due to appear in court Wednesday, police said.

A British court earlier this year found that Naseer "was an al Qaeda operative who posed and still poses a serious threat to the national security of the United Kingdom."

The court was considering whether he could be deported to Pakistan, where he comes from. It ruled that he could not because of the risk he would be tortured there.

His arrest Wednesday is the latest stage in a saga that has had Naseer in and out of the British court system for more than a year.

He was among a group of men arrested, in a high-profile sweep in April 2009, on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack designed to cause mass casualties in England.

They were seized after a top British counterterrorism officer, Bob Quick, allowed himself to be photographed carrying secret documents in a manner such that they could be read.

But none of the men was ever charged. Quick resigned.

Then in May, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that Naseer and Ahmad Faraz Khan faced a risk of being tortured if they were sent back to their native Pakistan and blocked their deportation on European human rights grounds.

The commission was convinced that Naseer had sent to an al Qaeda contact coded e-mails, in which Naseer used girls' names to mean ingredients in explosives and indicated when the attack would take place by saying he would get married then.

"We will have many guests attending the party," he told his al Qaeda contact in an e-mail reproduced in court judgment.

But the immigration commission said it had seen no evidence that the men handled explosives.

"There are pointers to an imminent attack ... but ... we are unable to determine whether Naseer and his associates would, in fact, have been able to carry out an attack intended to cause mass casualties between 15 and 20 April" 2009, the court said in its judgment.

British Home Secretary Theresa May, who is responsible for domestic security, said she was "disappointed" by the ruling in May.

The commission relied partly on secret evidence in making its decision.

CNN's Carol Jordan, Eileen Hsieh and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.