Jailed Briton: I met with bin Laden
In a videotaped deposition made public for the first time, a British man convicted in an aborted shoe-bombing mission admitted meeting with Osama bin Laden after deciding to fight jihad against the West.
US prosecutors and defence lawyers interviewed Saajid Badat just outside London late last month in preparation for the New York trial of Adis Medunjanin, accused in the 2009 plot to attack New York's subways with suicide bombs.
Badat said that he refused a request to testify in person because he remains under indictment in Boston on charges alleging he conspired with shoe-bomber Richard Reid.
"If I go to the United States, I'll be arrested," Badat said on the tape played for a jury in US federal court in Brooklyn.
Badat, 33, pleaded guilty in Britain to plotting with Reid to bring down separate American transatlantic flights using bombs hidden in their shoes. Unlike Reid, he backed out at the last minute. "I agreed to take an explosive on an aircraft and explode it," he said in the video, looking clean-cut and wearing a suit.
He also testified that he had "direct interaction" with bin Laden "more than once" after travelling to Afghanistan in 1999. At the time, he knew the terror network as The Sheikh's Group, with sheikh referring to bin Laden.
Medunjanin is accused of travelling to Pakistan with two friends from his Queens high school in 2008 and receiving terror training from al Qaida. Prosecutors allege the men, including acknowledged mastermind Najibullah Zazi, agreed to seek martyrdom by dying as suicide bombers in an attack on Manhattan underground lines at rush hour.
Medunjanin, 27, a Bosnian-born naturalised US citizen, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to a terrorist organisation and other charges. He has denied he was ever part of an al Qaida operation.
Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay pleaded guilty to the plot in 2010 and were jailed without bail after agreeing to become government witnesses in a bid for leniency. Both testified against Medunjanin earlier this week.
Badat had no involvement with the men. US prosecutors instead want to use his testimony to corroborate what Zazi and Ahmedzay have said about al Qaida's leadership and training methods. UK authorities announced this week that in 2009 a judge secretly reduced Badat's sentence from 13 to 11 years to reward him for his co-operation in terror investigations.