Would-be shoe bomber agrees to testify for cut in sentence

Landmark supergrass deal will see British terrorist give evidence in al-Qa'ida trial in US

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The Independent Online

A would-be shoe bomber has become the first British terrorist to have his sentence cut after co-operating with prosecutors and agreeing to give evidence against a terror suspect in a US trial.

Saajid Muhammad Badat, from Gloucester, was jailed for 13 years in 2005 after he admitted to plotting to explode a shoe bomb on a transatlantic flight in December 2001 at the same time as fellow bomber Richard Reid.

Badat, 33, changed his mind days before the planned attack, after which he cut links to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The dismantled bomb was discovered by police two years later at his parent's home.

Yesterday, the Crown Prosecution Service revealed that Badat had his sentence cut to 11 years by a judge in 2009 after considering the "valuable assistance" he had provided to British counter-terrorism officers and to the FBI. The sentencing deal was kept secret until yesterday, when the trial of Adis Medunjanin, who is charged over an alleged al-Qa'ida plot to bomb the New York subway network, opened in Brooklyn.

It is the first time that a terrorist convicted in the UK has agreed to give evidence in the US using an agreement under the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

Sue Hemming, the head of the special crime and counter-terrorism division of the CPS, said the agreement was not entered into lightly.

"We considered very carefully the merits of entering into this agreement with a convicted terrorist, and we believe that the administration of justice internationally benefits from such an agreement," she said.

Ms Hemming said Badat "fully co-operated with investigators" at Scotland Yard and in the FBI while in prison and "provided information of overwhelming importance in relation to investigations they were conducting".

She added: "Badat has helped with investigations in this country, he continues to co-operate and has agreed to testify in other trials if called upon."

Badat's arrest in 2003 came as a huge shock to his family and the community in GLoucester, who knew him as a respected and academically gifted, devout, kind young man.

During his trial, it emerged that he had attended military training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan despite winning places at Imperial College and City University in London to study optometry. Badat met the British shoe bomber Richard Reid in Afghanistan. In December 2001, Reid tried to detonate a shoe bomb on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami. He was jailed for life without parole in the US.

Badat returned from Afghanistan with a similar suicide mission, but he changed his mind and returned to Britain – still wearing the bomb on his feet.

LIFE AND CRIMES: Saajid Badat

Though born in 1979 to a Muslim family from Malawi, Saajid Badat was educated at a Church of England boys' school, leaving the prestigious Crypt Grammar in Gloucester with 10 GCSEs and four A-Levels.

Islam was always important in Badat's life, however – he had memorised the Koran by the age of 12. It was anger at the plight of Muslim communities during the Balkans conflicts of the mid-1990s that drove him to fly out to Afghanistan to learn how to carry out a terrorist atrocity.

But he changed his mind on returning to Britain and instead enrolled at the College of Islamic Knowledge and Guidance in Blackburn. Badat left after two years of the five-year course, returning to Gloucester to live with his parents as part of the 4,000-strong Muslim community. He began preaching at a local mosque, but was arrested only months later by anti-terror police.