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New Yorker May Be Link to London Attacks

New York Man Emerges As Possible Link to al-Qaida in London Bombings; Now in Manhattan Lockup

By TOM HAYS

NEW YORK Jul 19, 2005 (AP)— When senior al-Qaida officials called a clandestine summit in a remote region of Pakistan in early 2004, an American eager to earn his terrorist stripes was waiting in the wings.

By his own admission, Mohammed Junaid Babar traveled to the province of Waziristan to supply cash and military equipment to the terror network a key moment in an odyssey that began in Queens and ended in a federal lockup in Manhattan, where Babar has emerged as a possible link to al-Qaida in the terrorist bombings in London.

At the request of British investigators, the FBI has questioned Babar, 30, about suspected ties between the July 7 attacks and a foiled plot in 2004 by a Pakistani cell to use fertilizer bombs to blow up pubs, restaurants and train stations for which Babar provided support, law enforcement officials in New York told The Associated Press.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, confirmed reports that Babar claimed to know one of the London suicide bombers, Mohammed Sidique Khan, when shown a picture of him. But the officials declined to discuss whether he provided any further information that would be useful to investigators.

Babar, while pleading guilty to terrorism charges and agreeing to cooperate with the government last year, admitted organizing a "jihad training camp" that provided instruction on explosives.

"I was aware that some of the people who attended the training camp had ideas about … plotting against some targets in the United Kingdom," he told a judge, according to a transcript of his guilty plea.

Before the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Babar's life was unremarkable. The grandson of Pakistani immigrants, he grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Queens.

In interviews with journalists in Pakistan before his arrest, Babar said he once was a contented Yankee fan and computer programmer earning $70,000 a year. But the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan radicalized him.

On Sept. 11, his mother escaped from the ninth floor of one of the World Trade Center towers. Babar's loyalty, though, was "to the Muslims, not the Americans," he said in an interview broadcast on Canadian television. He also announced his intention to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

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