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US informant says plotted to kill Pakistan leader

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Mar 30 (Reuters) A U S informant today told a British court he was involved in two plots to assassinate Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and had bought guns, ammunition and grenades to carry out the killing.

Mohammed Babar, a Pakistan-born American, said the first plot had been in early 2002 and the second had been planned for the Muslim festival of Eid in 2003.

The 31-year-old is the main prosecution witness at the London trial of seven Britons accused of planning bomb attacks in the UK.

Police describe the case as Britain's biggest terrorism trial since the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Babar, who has said he was the men's accomplice and has admitted terrorism-related offences back in the United States in connection with the allegations, told the court he had been involved in two conspiracies to kill Musharraf.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Joel Bennathan, Babar said he had bought eight AK-47 machine guns, 5,000 rounds of ammunition and grenades for an assassination attempt in 2002.

Babar, who has been granted immunity from prosecution over his testimony, agreed he would probably have been jailed for life in the United States had the plot been uncovered or would have received a potential death sentence in Pakistan had he been extradited there.

Bennathan suggested Babar was lying to make himself appear a more important witness.

''Were it not for the plea agreement you would be at risk of life imprisonment or possibly the death penalty,'' he said.

''Yes, if they had found out,'' Babar replied, agreeing with the defence lawyer that he expected to gain more in the future from his deal with the FBI to give evidence.

''You are telling lies to buy yourself out of trouble, aren't you?'' Bennathan asked. Babar denied the suggestion.

During his testimony, Babar has told how some of the British suspects had links to al Qaeda, had taken part in explosives training and had planned to smuggle detonators.

The suspects, 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''.

Three of them are also charged with possessing 600 kg of ammonium nitrate fertiliser -- sometimes used to make bombs for suspected terrorism purposes.

Two are also accused of possessing aluminium powder. The trial at the Old Bailey continues.

Reuters SB DB1858

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