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US charges man held in London bombings

Complaint alleges terror camp plot

NEW YORK -- A man detained in connection with the July 7 suicide bombings in London has been charged in a New York court with providing material support to terrorism in the United States, according to court documents unsealed yesterday.

Haroon Rashid Aswat, 30, a British-born citizen of Indian descent, is accused of being part of a 1999-2000 plot to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., according to a six-page complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan.

Aswat was taken into custody in Zambia last month, where he had been detained in connection to the bombings. British officials want to question him about 20 phone calls reportedly made on his South African cellphone to some of the four suicide bombers, who killed 52 people in the London attack, Zambian officials had said last month.

He was brought to London over the weekend, and a judge yesterday ordered him to remain there until Thursday pending an extradition request from US authorities.

According to the complaint in New York, Aswat and another man were dispatched to the United States in 1999. After arriving in New York, they traveled by bus to Seattle, where they allegedly conspired to set up the training camp.

A witness told US investigators that Aswat once boasted that he had ''been in a training camp in Afghanistan and he once saw Osama bin Laden," according to court papers.

The London extradition hearing was based on accusations that Aswat tried to set up the Oregon camp to provide training in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, and martial arts for people aiming to fight in Afghanistan.

Aswat's lawyer, Hossein Zahir, indicated his client would challenge the extradition.

''He wishes to stress that he has nothing to hide," Zahir told the court. ''He denies any suggestion that he's a terrorist or engaged in any terrorist activity."

Aswat had expertise in combat training and remained at the Oregon camp for a month at the end of 1999, said the complaint, filed in federal court in New York on June 20.

It closely tracks the indictments of James Ujaama, a Seattle man who the government said first identified property in Bly, and Muslim cleric Abu Hamza alMasri, who faces charges that include his role in the camp.

Ujaama, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation in terrorism investigations, provided crucial help in last year's indictment of Masri, federal officials have said. Aswat was referred to, but not named or indicted, in the charges against Ujaama, officials have said.

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