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  1. ITV Report

Manchester terror plot 'went to top of Al-Qaida'

Abid Naseer was first arrested in 2009 when he was in the UK on a student visa. Credit: Court artist/Jane Rosenberg

By Matt Williams, News Editor for ITV News in Brooklyn

Abid Naseer went on trial today in Brooklyn accused of being the ringleader of a plot to detonate a bomb in Manchester during Easter weekend 2009.

The target is believed to be have been the Arndale Shopping Centre or St Ann's Square, potentially causing hundreds of casualties.

The court heard the plot was part of an Al-Qaida conspiracy, combined with attacks in New York and Copenhagen, that hoped to repeat the devastation of 9/11.

Naseer attended an Al-Qaida training camp with his co-conspirators in North West Pakistan in 2008 and used standard techniques, such as fake email accounts and code words, in order to remain undetected.

The Arndale Centre in Manchester is believed to have been one of the targets. Credit: PA

The prosecution allege the plot was days away from being carried out when Naseer was arrested as part of an ongoing surveillance operation by MI5 and Greater Manchester Police.

Prosecution attorney Celia Cohen said: "The defendant's plot went all the way to the top of Al-Qaida, to none other than Osama bin Laden."

She stated Osama bin Laden was sent letters updating him on the progress of the three terror cells.

Naseer, who is defending himself, then took the stand, denying all the charges and claiming he was "not a member of Al-Qaida and that he held no extremist or jihadi views."

The trial continues.

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