March 30, 2006

Informant says plotted to kill Pakistan leader

LONDON (Reuters) - A U.S. informant told a British court on
Thursday 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

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 defense 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

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 defense 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 1,300 lb of
ammonium nitrate fertilizer -- sometimes used to make bombs --
for suspected terrorism purposes.

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