Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Bin Laden 'wanted 9/11 follow-up'

Saajid Badat was convicted over a 2001 plot to down an American Airlines flight with explosives hidden in his shoes

A Briton who trained to be a shoe bomber said Osama bin Laden told him shortly after the September 11 2001 attacks that he believed a follow-up terrorist attack could doom the American economy.

Saajid Badat recounted his meeting with the al Qaida founder in videotaped testimony that was played on Monday for a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York City.

"So he said the American economy is like a chain," Badat said. "If you break one - one link of the chain, the whole economy will be brought down. So after the September 11 attacks, this operation will ruin the aviation industry and in turn the whole economy will come down."

Badat, 33, was convicted in London in a 2001 plot to down an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes. His evidence came in the trial of a man accused in a 2009 plot to attack New York's tube network with suicide bombs.

Badat said he was supposed to carry out a simultaneous bombing with failed British shoe-bomber Richard Reid. In testimony recorded last month, Badat said he refused a request to testify in person because he remained under indictment in Boston on charges alleging he conspired with Reid and he has been told he would be arrested if he set foot in the United States.

The videotape of his testimony was played just before the prosecution called to the witness stand a Long Island man who went to Pakistan in 2007 and joined al Qaida forces in an attack against American soldiers.

Bryant Vinas, who says he spent three weeks training with the US Army in 2004 before dropping out because he thought it was too mentally difficult, said he later recommended that al Qaida bomb a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train and a Wal-Mart store.

Vinas said he told others in al Qaida in the summer of 2008 that they could leave a suitcase aboard an LIRR train, while explosives could be hidden inside a television that was being returned to a Wal-Mart.

He said he was aware that hundreds of people would die and conceded on cross-examination that he was proud of himself for coming up with the idea. An al Qaida associate suggested it would be more successful if a suicide bomber destroyed the train and a portion of the tunnel through which trains move from Long Island into Manhattan by setting off explosives while in the tunnel, he said.

Vinas, 29, of Patchogue on Long Island, east of New York City, has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in Brooklyn and become a key government co-operator. The judge who will eventually sentence him watched him testify on Monday.

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