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Friday across the NW

Al Quaida documents read at trial

Abid Naseer, the Manchester student accused of British terror plot Credit: pa

Prosecutors have presented declassified al Qaida documents obtained after the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound at the trial of a former Manchester student accused of a British terror plot.

The al Qaida documents, read to the New York court by an FBI linguist who translated them from Arabic, were presented at the trial of Abid Naseer and discussed attacks in Britain and Europe.

The documents also mentioned terror attacks in Russia, including plans to bomb a pipeline or the US embassy there.

Naseer headed a British al Qaida terror cell that in 2009 was part of a broader conspiracy to commit attacks in Manchester, New York and Denmark, prosecutors say. Emails show the same al Qaida handler was in contact with Naseer and two men convicted of planning to bomb New York's tube network, prosecutors say.

Pakistani national Naseer has pleaded not guilty and is defending himself in federal court in Brooklyn. He took the stand after the prosecution rested and was questioned by his court-appointed adviser, James Neuman.

Naseer, who was extradited to New York in 2013, said he was in the UK as a student studying computers and the English language and denied being a member of al Qaida or receiving training from the terror group.

The documents discuss a range of al Qaida business, from operational tactics to training methods and suggestions on how to avoid detection by law enforcement. One letter suggests that attacking the continental US "in its heartland ... has the most significance" and "cannot be compared" to an attack outside the country.

The goal of an attack would be "to pressure 300 million Americans" who vote for their elected officials, to end the nation's war against al Qaida and its goal of establishing an Islamic state, the letters said.

None of the letters mentioned Naseer by name.

During the trial, Alexander Otte, a top FBI anti-terror officer, said he travelled to Afghanistan and managed the handling of evidence recovered after the 2011 bin Laden raid, spending 16 hours processing the weapons, documents and electronic equipment recovered in the secret operation.

Mr Otte also said he saw bin Laden's body after it was returned to a military hangar. "I knew who he was, and I recognised him immediately," he said.

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