Man convicted in shopping center bomb plot gets 40 years

Story highlights

  • Naseer was convicted of supporting al Qaeda, conspiring to bomb a shopping center in England
  • He maintained his innocence throughout the two-week trial

New York (CNN)Convicted al Qaeda operative Abid Naseer was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison for terrorism offenses, including a 2009 plot to bomb a shopping center in Manchester, England, during Easter, federal prosecutors said.

A federal jury convicted Naseer, 29, in March of plotting attacks with al Qaeda that targeted the Unites States and Europe.
    "His conviction and sentence reflect our dedication to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to target the United States and its allies," John P. Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.
    The Manchester plot was allegedly part of a three-pronged plan that included attacks on the New York City subway system and on a newsroom in Copenhagen. None were carried out.
    Naseer was found guilty on three criminal violations: providing material support to al Qaeda, conspiring to provide material support for al Qaeda and conspiring to use a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence.
    The New York plot allegedly originated with Najibullah Zazi, who is believed to have corresponded with the same al Qaeda contact as Naseer. Zazi pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and was the first witness in Naseer's trial.
    Naseer, a Pakistani national, was in the United Kingdom on a student visa at the time of his arrest. Among the evidence presented before his conviction in the spring, prosecutors pointed out that Naseer had dropped out of classes after only a week.
    Naseer had no intention of completing his studies because "that was never the plan," Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmad argued, saying that Naseer applied for a student visa as a means of entering the country to carry out the attack.
    Naseer maintained throughout the two-week trial that he was innocent, insisting that he was in the United Kingdom to find a wife, not to plan an attack. He represented himself.
    Naseer was arrested in April 2009 in England as part of a massive sweep in connection with an alleged plot to carry out bomb attacks in Britain. He was extradited in January 2013.
    "This case demonstrates the importance of a closely coordinated international law enforcement approach to an established terrorist network that knows no borders." New York City Police Department William Bratton said in a statement. "I commend our local and international partners in preventing these acts and securing convictions of those responsible for plotting them," said Police Commissioner Bratton."