In the Media

Immigrant in Britain helped plot attack on Christmas shoppers

PUBLISHED July 20, 2012

Nasserdine Menni was found guilty of conspiracy to murder Christmas shoppers in the Swedish capital after an 11-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow. The Algerian, whose age is not known, was also convicted of benefit fraud.

An investigation involving British police and the FBI uncovered his links to Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, who died after detonating a bomb in December 2010.

The pair hatched their plans for a

terrorist atrocity in Sweden after becoming friends while living in Luton, Beds.

Menni ended up in Glasgow seeking asylum and it was money earned there from illegally-claimed benefits and low-paid jobs that funded the mission.

His legal team claimed that the cash was given to Abdulwahab to pass on to family back home but the jury rejected his claims and he faces a lengthy jail term when he is sentenced at the High Court on Aug 27.

Addressing the trial judge, Lord Matthews, as he left the dock, Menni said: "My Lord, I thank you very much for the justice in Scotland."

The court heard how Abdulwahab, an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen, bought a ­second-hand Audi car and packed it with petrol canisters, gas cylinders, and a "pressure cooker" bomb filled with nails, ball bearings and explosives.

He intended to detonate the car bomb to drive shoppers towards the pedestrian area of the city, where he was waiting with explosive devices attached to his body.

Despite setting fire to the vehicle, he failed to detonate the devices inside. Abdulwahab was seen on CCTV trying to detonate one of the devices to which he was attached and succeeded in blowing himself up 15 minutes after the car was set on fire.

Images showed crowds of Christmas shoppers trying to flee after two passers-by were injured. Abdulwahab was declared dead at the scene. Shortly before the incidents, his wife had sent emails explaining the reasons for his "martyrdom" to Swedish media and police.

Police recovered a mobile phone from Abdulwahab's body from which he had made two calls earlier that day to a mobile in Glasgow. Within days, Menni - who was known to some in Glasgow as an asylum-seeking Kuwaiti called Ezeeden Al-Khaledi - had been identified as the owner of the phone.

He was placed under surveillance and investigators found extensive links between the two men. They discovered that Menni had a number of bank accounts in various aliases through which he transferred cash to Abdulwahab to fund the terrorist plot.

He made deposits totalling £5,725, which helped pay for Abdulwahab's trips abroad for the "purposes of jihad" and the Audi used in the bombing. Another £1,000 was sent intended for

Abdulwahab's wife, Mona Thwany, after his death.

The 29-year-old mother of three from Luton told the court she received a message from her husband on the day of his death confessing that he was a terrorist.

She insisted that she had no prior knowledge of her husband's plans but William Taylor QC, defending Menni, questioned her about why instructions on how to build a bomb were stored in a computer in her home.

Mr Taylor also suggested that she went shopping online after learning of her husband's death.

He told the court that she looked at clothes and how to buy a dress, then checked how much money was in her bank account.

She said she did not remember, adding that it was "very unlikely" that she looked at clothes.

Thwany confirmed that Menni told her on the phone he wanted to send her the money but said: "It is a cultural thing that when someone passes away, you ask the family if they need anything."

Menni is believed to have arrived in Britain in 2005 under a false French identity and became radicalised in early 2009.