Video: U.S. ties in London bombings?

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/20/2005 8:18:43 PM ET 2005-07-21T00:18:43

He's believed to be a mastermind of the London bombings. U.S. counter-terrorism officials tell NBC News that Haroon Rashid Aswat is the same British-born Muslim of Indian descent who scouted an Oregon ranch to set up a terrorist training camp.

U.S. officials say a 2002 indictment links Aswat directly to Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical cleric from a London mosque who is now on trial in Britain for possessing al-Qaida literature and inciting the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims.

"I think this just gives us a glimpse into what might be happening inside the United States," says retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona, an NBC News terrorism expert. "We were able to uncover one operation — how many others are out there?"

Court documents say a conspirator, whom U.S. officials identify as Aswat, arrived in the United States in November 1999 on Abu Hamza's orders.  He made his way to Oregon, say the documents, for the purpose of "evaluating a property" for "a jihad training camp."

The documents reveal Aswat worked with American James Ujaama, who pleaded guilty to terror conspiracy charges and is now cooperating with U.S. investigators.

The documents also say Aswat, along with another conspirator, lived in Seattle in early 2000 and "expounded on the teachings" of Abu Hamza.

U.S. officials say Aswat's suspected involvement could link Abu Hamza to the London bombings.

Wednesday night, at his family's house in northern England, neighbors say they haven't seen Aswat in nearly 10 years.

There are conflicting reports on Aswat's possible arrest. As of Wednesday night, the Pakistani government denies he's in custody.

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