Alleged al-Qaida operative Abid Naseer pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he was part of a terror plot against New York City subways and targets in Denmark and Britain in his first appearance in a U.S. court.
Naseer, 26, a Pakistani man who had been living in the United Kingdom, was extradited to the United States last week. He wore a bright turquoise shirt and sported a long, bushy beard, but said nothing during a brief court appearance after responding "Good afternoon, judge" to a greeting from U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie.
His plea was entered by his court-appointed lawyer. Dearie ordered Naseer detained pending his next court appearance on March 7.
In a 2010 indictment, prosecutors charged Naseer with providing material support to al-Qaida, and said that he had been recruited in 2008 to participate in the European end of a multinational bomb plot that also included a plan to have three U.S. residents from Queens launch a suicide plot in the subways.
That part of the plot was thwarted in September 2009. Former high school classmates Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay have both pleaded guilty in that case, and their testimony led to the conviction last year of Adis Medunjanin.
Prosecutors contend that Naseer was in touch by email with the same al-Qaida handler in Pakistan, was using the same code words, and was planning an attack in Britain in the spring of 2009. That attack was thwarted by law enforcement raids in Britain, but Naseer has never been charged there.
Naseer has been in custody in Britain since 2010, but has been fighting extradition on grounds that the United States might deport him to Pakistan, where his life would be in danger.