A Brooklyn federal jury on Wednesday convicted a 28-year-old Pakistani man of an al-Qaida bomb plot in England that was linked to the 2009 conspiracy to launch a suicide attack on the New York City subways.
Abid Naseer, who was extradited from the United Kingdom and represented himself at trial, was found guilty of planning an attack on a Manchester shopping mall that prosecutors said was tied to both the subway plot and a hoped-for attack on a Danish newspaper. None were carried out.
Naseer, a former computer science student who questioned witnesses crisply in a clipped British accent and testified himself, had no reaction when the verdict was read. A lawyer who has been assisting Naseer said he will appeal.
The key evidence was a series of messages relating to a purported marriage that Naseer sent to the same al-Qaida handler who corresponded with subway plotter Najibullah Zazi.
Testifying for the government, Zazi said he didn't know Naseer, but the al-Qaida email contact was the same and the "marriage" discussions resembled the code he was instructed to use for discussing his bomb plot.
Although the messages were the only concrete link of Naseer to al-Qaida, prosecutors also used some stagecraft at trial -- calling British MI-5 agents to testify in disguise, for example, and introducing documents from Osama bin Laden's compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, that discussed a U.K. plot but did not mention Naseer.
Naseer testified, claiming the emails were actually part of a hunt for a bride, not a plot. "He wanted to settle down," he told jurors in closing arguments, referring to himself in the third person. "Is there anything wrong with that?"
Prosecutor Zainab Ahmed told jurors it was all a flimflam act. "This man wanted to drive a car bomb into a crowded shopping center and watch people die," she argued.
The jury verdict came on its second day of deliberations. Naseer faces up to life in prison on his conviction of two counts of conspiracy and providing material support to al-Qaida.