Norway terror suspect rejects al-Qaida link

November 17, 2011 - 1:35 PM

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The accused ringleader of a terror plot in Norway has rejected charges that he conspired with al-Qaida to attack a Danish newspaper, saying he was planning a solo raid against the Chinese Embassy in Oslo.

Mikael Davud, a Chinese Muslim, told the Oslo district court Thursday that his two alleged accomplices helped him acquire bomb-making ingredients but didn't know he was planning an attack.

The trio was arrested in July 2010 in a plot that investigators have linked to the same al-Qaida planners behind thwarted attacks against the New York subway and a British shopping mall in 2009.

Prosecutors say the Norwegian cell first wanted to attack a Danish newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad in cartoons, and then changed plans to seek to murder one of the cartoonists instead.

One of the co-defendants, Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, told the court Tuesday that the paper and the cartoonist were indeed the targets, but described the plans as "just talk."

Davud presented a different scenario. He said he wanted to attack the Chinese Embassy as "revenge" for Beijing's oppression of Uighurs, a Muslim minority in western China.

"It was my own plan. I was going to attack the Chinese Embassy and I didn't want to involve the others," he told the court.

Prosecutors must prove the defendants worked together in a conspiracy, because a single individual plotting an attack is not covered under Norway's anti-terror laws. The men deny the terror charges.

Davud, who came to Norway in 1999 and became a citizen eight years later, said he traveled to Iran in January 2009 and had contact with al-Qaida there about receiving training. He said he rejected that option because he didn't want to work under al-Qaida's leadership, and instead sought explosives training from a "private group" that he refused to identify.

Davud said he considered attacking the Chinese embassies in Iran and Turkey, but settled on the embassy in Norway because he thought that would be easier.

Prosecutor Geir Evanger said Davud wasn't telling the truth.

"We are going to prove that Davud did not get his training in Iran, but at an al-Qaida training camp in Pakistan," Evanger told The Associated Press.

Prosecutors plan to present testimony obtained in the U.S. in April from three American al-Qaida recruits turned government witnesses.

The third defendant in Norway, David Jakobsen, an Uzbek national who changed his name after moving to Norway, provided some of the chemicals for the bomb, according to the indictment. His lawyer Rene Ibsen said Jakobsen did not know they were meant for explosives. Ibsen also said Jakobsen had contacted the security police and worked as an informant.