1. ITV Report

Arndale bomb plotter jailed for 40 years

Abid Naseer has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, at a court in New York Photo:

A terrorist who planned to bomb the Arndale Centre in Manchester has been jailed in the US.

Abid Naseer, 29, was sentenced to 40 years in prison at a court in New York, after being found guilty of planning to carry out the failed UK bombing, as well as a terrorist attack on the New York subway, a US attorney said on Tuesday.

He was extradited to the US in 2013 and convicted of terror offences earlier this year following a trial in New York.

The Pakistani-born man was commissioned by al-Qaeda to carry out an attack in Manchester. He became the leader of a UK-based terror cell after moving to the city in November 2008 on a student visa.

US prosecutors said that UK plot had been part of al-Qaeda's wider plans to attack civilians in New York and the Danish Embassy.

Whilst living in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, Naseer drew up plans to use a potential vehicle bomb to blow up the shopping centre on the Easter weekend in 2009.

The North-West Counter Terrorism Unit said that there could have been up to 90,000 people in the vicinity at the time of the planned attack. It said the bank holiday weekend would have been the busiest weekend after Christmas.

It is estimated that hundreds of people would have been killed in the attack, with thousands injured, had it not been foiled just days before it was due to be carried out.

Abid Naseer was arrested at his home in the Cheetham Hill area in Manchester in 2009 Credit: MEN Syndication

Officers said Naseer had planned to detonate the bomb in a car outside Next, less than 100 metres from where the IRA bomb exploded in 1996. Naseer had then planned to use a second device to kill and injure more shoppers as they fled the shopping centre into Market Street.

Naseer planned to detonate a bomb just 100 metres from where an IRA bomb exploded in 1996 Credit: ITV News Granada Reports

This al-Qaeda plot was intended by the group's leaders and Naseer to send a message to the United States and its allies.

Today's sentence sends an even more powerful message in response: terrorists who target the US and its allies will be held accountable for their violent crimes to the full extent of the law.

– Robert Capers, United States Attorney

A US reporter who was in court said Naseer gave a shout out to Man City, the football team he supports, after he was sentenced.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, says Abid Naseer "has finally seen justice for the terrorist atrocities he planned to orchestrate against the people of Greater Manchester."

He believes the sentence is "a fitting punishment" for the man who "came so close to carrying out what would have been one of the horrific terrorist acts seen in the UK since the 7/7 bombings."

A senior FBI chief said Naseer exploited the British education visa system to further his own life and "take away the lives of many others in large numbers."

Diego Rodriguez, FBI assistant director-in-charge said Naseer communicated in code to hide his "evil intentions". He added that Naseer's case highlights the importance of "closely coordinated international law enforcement" that has the "necessary authority and tools" to undermine terrorist plots.