Salaam’s Inventory of Arrests section has been tracking this young man’s adventures for some years. He first came to notice in November 2003 when he was charged for terrorism offences. The Home Secretary of the time David Blunkett did not wait for a court hearing to declare: “it is the belief of the security and special branch forces that this person has connections with the network of al-Qaida groups. That is why he has been arrested under the Terrorism Act”. What had given him this confidence? The Police were unable to press charges within the statutory period and asked for an extension. In September 2004 he appeared in court, where he pleaded not guilty of handling explosives and conspiring of aircraft terrorism. However at a hearing at the Central Criminal Court in February 2005, Badat pleaded guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to destroy, damage or endanger an aircraft”. On 23rd April 2005, Badat was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment. The Guardian reports that “Badat was told he would have faced a 50-year sentence, but Mr Justice Fulford gave him credit for pulling out of the plot, renouncing terrorism and pleading guilty”.
Badat’s sentence was reduced to 11 years in November 2009, but a banning order was put on media reportage, and only made public in April 2012 . The deal “is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK….Sue Hemming, head of the CPS special crime and counter terrorism division, said the agreement had not been entered into lightly. It will see Badat give evidence in the US trial, which opens in Brooklyn today, of Adis Medunjanin over an al Qaida plot to bomb the New York subway..”(The Independent, 16 April 2012)
On 15the Feb 2014 The Daily Telegraph reported, “Saajid Badat is about to become the most important terrorist ‘supergrass’ in history by testifying via video link from Britain about the inner-workings of al-Qaeda in two major US terror trials. Badat, 33, has agreed to give evidence as the star witness in the cases in New York against Abu Hamza, the Egyptian-born British cleric renowned for his hate-filled sermons, and Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.”
This saga brings to mind the grooming of another supergrass US-born David Rupert, who came to light during the trial of Michael McKevitt on charges linked to the Omagh car bomb in Northern Ireland in August 1999. When Rupert was approached by MI5 and the FBI to give evidence against Michael McKevitt his response was “tell me what to do, make it worth my while and as long as the benefit overrides risk in my view it will be done to the best of my ability.” There have been questions of how much the security services knew of the planned attrocity and the role of planted agents. It has been claimed as far back as 2001 a double agent had forewarned the police two days prior to the bombing and alleged that the Catholic splinter group, the Real IRA, was involved. This turned out to be Agent Rupert, who was paid £700,000 to infiltrate dissident Republican groups (Financial Times, 19 June 2003).
Now what was the inducement for the “most important terrorist supergrass in history”?