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London probes Awlaki plots

Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen October 2008, courtesy of Muhammad ud-Deen via Wikimedia Commons.
Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen October 2008, courtesy of Muhammad ud-Deen via Wikimedia Commons.

LONDON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- London prosecutors accused an employee of British Airways of having close ties to al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki regarding plots to blow up passenger planes.

Prosecutors charged Rajb Karim, 31, with associating with Awlaki, who allegedly corresponded with attackers targeting U.S. interests before they carried out their plots, CNN International reports.

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He stands accused of being "entirely committed" to extremism and is said to have exchanged messages with the Yemeni cleric in 2009 and again in 2010. His brother, CNN adds, met with Awlaki in Yemen in early 2010.

The cleric is said to have told Karim that he wanted the British Airways employee to look for "limitations and cracks" in airport security procedures.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for a plot to blow up a passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and for plots targeting air freight carriers in 2010.

Karim was arrested in February 2010. He admits to volunteering for terrorist operations and supporting terrorist causes, but said he wasn't aware any information gleaned by Awlaki would be used in plotting new attacks.

Prosecutors charge that Awlaki told Karim, however, that he "may be able to play a crucial role" in targeting Western interests.

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