Accused Terrorist Takes the Stand to Deny Scorn for West

     BROOKLYN (CN) – Accused of plotting with al-Qaida to bomb a U.K. pedestrian mall, Abid Naseer assured jurors Wednesday: “I have no hostility against the Western countries.”
     Prosecutors say Pakistan-born Naseer trained with al-Qaida to attack Manchester as part Osama bin Laden’s failed three-pronged attack that included New York City’s subway system and a Danish newspaper.
     Naseer was arrested in Manchester in 2009 and has been representing himself for the last several weeks in a criminal trial before a Brooklyn jury.
     With Naseer on the stand to testify today, attorney James Neuman stood in to pose questions for Naseer’s defense.
     “I chose to represent myself based on personal grounds,” Naseer said. “I wanted the people to hear my voice and hear my story.”
     While on the stand, Naseer described himself as a “semi-professional cricket player” who grew up in a “well-off” neighborhood in Pakistan.
     “It’s a very peaceful place,” he said. “I went to a private school in the morning, I played cricket in the afternoon and in the evening I attended the mosque.”
     Earlier Wednesday, jurors heard Ibrahim Houri, an Arabic translator for the FBI, read chilling excerpts from letters and emails retrieved from bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.
     The emails and letters seized from thumb-drives provided jurors with chilling details of alleged al-Qaida plans to deliver “earth-shaking” attacks against the “heartland of America” by using household items like fluoride from salt and kitchen knives.
     “We have to focus on killing and fighting the American people,” Houri read from one of the seized documents.
     One of the letters, allegedly addressed to bin Laden, referred to the former al-Qaida leader as “sheikh” and “emir.” The jury has not seen direct evidence yet linking Naseer to these documents.
     Naseer faces life in prison if convicted.

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