Bangladeshi BA worker 'plotted to blow up US flight'

1st February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Bangladeshi Islamic militant working for British Airways in England conspired with a radical US-Yemeni cleric to blow up an American-bound flight, a prosecutor told a London court on Tuesday.

Rajib Karim, 31, exchanged secret emails with preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and discussed using his BA contacts and access to try to get a package onto a plane heading to the United States, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Karim arrived in Britain in 2006 and worked as a computer expert for BA in Newcastle, northeast England, and also had access to the airline's offices at London Heathrow airport, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the jury.

He had links to the banned terrorist group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, which wants to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh, and he was "entirely committed to an extreme jihadist and religious cause," said Laidlaw.

"He is, as the prosecution would describe him, an Islamic extremist, with close association to, if not membership of, a proscribed terrorist organisation called Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)," said the prosecutor.

Karim denies plotting to blow up a plane, sharing information which could be of use to hate groups, offering to help financial or disruptive attacks on BA and gaining a job in Britain to "exploit terrorist purposes."

But he admitted three other terror charges on Monday, including funding associates and volunteering for terrorism training and insurgent operations abroad.

After his arrival in Britain, Karim established a deep cover, joining a gym, playing football and never airing extreme views, the court heard.

At the same time, the prosecution allege, he was communicating with a terror cell and Awlaki, believed to be in hiding in Yemen.

Awlaki and Karim allegedly started communicating via email in January last year, with the preacher urging the defendant to stay in his BA job and provide him with information.

In February, the preacher asked Karim about getting a package on board a US-bound flight, the court heard.

He wrote: "So the question is: with the people you have, is it possible to get a package or a person with a package on board a flight heading to the US?"

After this exchange, Karim applied for cabin crew training, Laidlaw said.

The trial continues and is expected to last several weeks.

© 2011 AFP

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