Friday 13 December 2019

Witness in Hamza trial was 'hugged' by Bin Laden

Radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza. Photo: PA
Radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza. Photo: PA
Sajeed Badat. Photo: PA

Philip Sherwell New York

The star witness in the New York terror trial of Abu Hamza, the radical Islamic cleric, has described how he received a hug from Osama bin Laden after the al-Qa'ida leader gave him final instructions for a transatlantic "shoe bomb" plot.

Saajid Badat, a British terrorist "supergrass", said that bin Laden hugged him and "wished me good luck in my mission" at the end of their meeting in Afghanistan in November 2001, two months after the September 11 attacks.

Badat, who was released from prison in 2010 after agreeing to testify in terrorism cases in Britain and the US, also said that he discussed plans for an attack on Canary Wharf with Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, the mastermind of the September 11 atrocities.

The plan was thwarted by Badat's family in Gloucester, the jury heard. When he returned to Britain in Dec 2001 after three years in Afghanistan, his parents expressed fears that their son might have been trained for a terror attack.

"My father said that he would kill me if I was one of those sleepers," Badat testified by video link, adding that he abandoned his plans as a result.

According to court papers filed by prosecutors, Badat is to testify that he met Feroz Abbasi, an alleged British "terror lieutenant" of Hamza at al-Qa'ida training camps in Afghanistan, and heard him agree to participate in terrorist missions.

US prosecutors have accused Hamza (56) of operating a global terror network from the north London mosque and recruiting young radicals to be trained for terrorism around the world.

The Egyptian-born imam has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges of providing material support to Al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan, trying to set up a jihadi training camp in Oregon and helping to oversee the 1998 kidnapping of Western tourists in Yemen that ended in the deaths of three Britons.

The trial continues.

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