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US witness says he supplied computers for al Qaeda

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Mar 24 (Reuters) A US informant, testifying at the trial of seven Britons accused of planning bombings in the UK, told a London court today he had supplied computers to help al Qaeda.

Mohammed Babar, 31, a Pakistan-born American who has admitted terrorism-related offences in New York, also said he had met a number of the accused Britons in Pakistan and southern England and had shown one of them a stash of hidden weapons.

The Old Bailey court has heard how Babar would be the key prosecution witness against the Britons, accused of planning to use ammonium nitrate fertiliser to make bombs for attacks on possible targets such as pubs and clubs.

Babar has admitted in closed US hearings trying to acquire the ingredients for what American authorities call ''the British Bomb plot'', the court was told.

He has been described as the men's accomplice but has immunity against prosecution in the UK.

Today he told the jury how he had given computers to one of the suspects, Waheed Mahmood, whom he described as a contact for fellow Britons who wanted to receive training for jihad.

He said he gave Mahmood one computer, which he had stolen from a software firm he was working for, in February 2003 and two more a month later because ''the brothers'' needed them.

''In February I thought the brothers he was talking about were Pakistani brothers involved in jihad. In March I understood brothers to mean Arabs or members of al Qaeda,'' Babar said.

Another British man had left a hoard of weapons -- AK47s, their magazines and 2-3,000 rounds of ammunition, near the Punjab University in Lahore and Mahmood had contacted him about them, Babar said.

''We had buried those weapons. I wanted to show Waheed Mahmood where we had buried the weapons so if he ever needed them he could dig them up and use them,'' he said.

Babar, who the court has heard wanted to fight US troops in Afghanistan after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, said he had communicated with his British accomplices via e-mail, using a number of aliases for security reasons including ''Big Dawg''.

Seven Britons: Anthony Garcia; Jawad Akbar; Omar Khyam; his brother Shujah Mahmood; Waheed Mahmood; Nabeel Hussain and Salahuddin Amin are accused of conspiring with Canadian Momin Khawaja to cause an explosion ''likely to endanger life''.

Garcia, Khyam and Hussain are also charged with possessing 600 kg (1,300 lb) of ammonium nitrate fertiliser -- sometimes used to make bombs -- which detectives suspected was ''for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism''.

Khyam and Shujah Mahmood are also accused of possessing aluminium powder, also for suspected terrorist purposes.

They deny all charges and the trial continues.

Reuters SI BD2037

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