A Pakistani man convicted in March in a US court of conspiring with al-Qaida to bomb a shopping centre in Manchester should spend 30 years to life in prison, US prosecutors say.
Abid Naseer, 29, poses an “extreme danger” to society given his “continued commitment” to cause mass casualties designed to rival the September 11 attacks, prosecutors said in a letter filed late on Tuesday.
Naseer had represented himself at trial, and is scheduled to be sentenced on 17 November by Judge Raymond Dearie in the US district court in Brooklyn, New York.
Naseer was convicted of plotting to blow up the Arndale shopping center in the centre of Manchester as early as April 2009, when he was arrested by British authorities.
The attack was one of three that US prosecutors said affiliated cells were working on, including attacks against the New York City subway and a Copenhagen newspaper.
Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty to the New York plot, testified against Naseer that both men coordinated their plans through coded emails with an al-Qaida operative in Pakistan.
Raised in Peshawar, the well-educated Naseer said he had a happy childhood in a stable suburban family and became proficient at cricket.
Prosecutors said this made his the “rare case” where no extenuating circumstances mitigated his crimes.
“He was given every opportunity in life, rendering his behaviour all the more abhorrent,” prosecutors said.
“There is simply nothing in the record, nor in the defendant’s own statements about his family and upbringing, that allows the blame for the defendant’s choice to join al-Qaida to be placed anywhere other than squarely at his own two feet.”
James Neuman, a lawyer representing Naseer for the sentencing, said in a 20 October court filing that a sentence “significantly below” 30 years was appropriate.
He said his client’s background, and support from family and friends, left “every reason to conclude that Mr Naseer will never commit another crime, let alone anything related to terrorism”.