UK judge approves extradition of Al-Qaeda suspect to US

21st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British judge on Friday approved the extradition to the United States of Abid Naseer, a suspected Al-Qaeda operative accused of planning attacks in Britain, the US and Norway.

The bearded 24-year-old Pakistani is wanted by US authorities over allegations that he provided material support to Osama bin Laden's Islamist network and conspired to use explosives.

Naseer was allegedly part of an Al-Qaeda cell in Britain whose members planned to attack the northwestern city of Manchester, probably targeting a shopping mall.

Judge Quentin Purdy told the court that he had approved the US application but said the case would now go to the home secretary, Britain's interior minister, for final approval.

The judge read out part of the extradition application, which said Naseer used codewords about weddings, marriage, girlfriends' computers and the weather to refer to attacks, bomb ingredients, travel documents and target sites.

"US evidence suggested Al-Qaeda attacks in the United States, England and Norway during 2009," the application said.

Purdy rejected defence claims that extradition would infringe Naseer's human rights because he could face rendition to his home country if extradited to the United States.

"I must proceed on the firm footing -- absent very cogent direct evidence -- (that) the rule of law and due process exists for all persons within the jurisdiction of the US courts, including Abid Naseer," he said.

"Accordingly I reject this challenge to extradition."

Naseer's lawyer Ben Cooper said his client would appeal against the decision.

Naseer was one of 12 men, mostly students, arrested in counter-terrorism raids in northwest England in 2009 over a suspected bomb plot.

All the men were released as there was insufficent evidence to charge them and they were ordered to be deported.

But in May Naseer won the right to stay in Britain when a judge ruled his safety could not be guaranteed if he returned to Pakistan.

The Home Office, or interior ministry, confirmed that the court had decided to send the case to Home Secretary Theresa May for a final decision on whether to surrender Naseer to the United States.

"As part of the process, Mr. Naseer has now been notified of his statutory entitlement to make representations against his surrender to the USA," a spokesman said.

"These representations must be received within four weeks of the case being sent to the secretary of state. The decision as to his surrender must be taken within two months of the court sending the case to the secretary of state."

© 2011 AFP

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