OSLO, Norway (AP) — Security officials investigating a terror plot in Norway will seek testimony in New York this week from three American al-Qaida recruits turned government witnesses, defense lawyers told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The Norwegians are preparing terror charges in a case that investigators have linked to foiled plots to bomb the New York subway and a shopping mall in Manchester, England.
The defense lawyers told the AP that Norway's Police Security Service will question Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, who have pleaded guilty in the foiled 2009 subway plot. They will also seek testimony from Bryant Neal Vinas, an American al-Qaida recruit who has cooperated with U.S. authorities since his capture in Pakistan.
Trond Hugubakken, a spokesman for Norway's Police Security Service, or PST, confirmed that Norwegian investigators were traveling to New York this week to talk to people in the "Zazi case," but wouldn't give details.
The U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which prosecuted all three men, declined comment on Tuesday.
Norwegian authorities last year arrested three suspects accused of plotting a terror attack against a Danish newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad.
Intelligence officials believe the main suspect, Mikael Davud, was in contact with an al-Qaida operative in Pakistan who also communicated with the New York and Manchester plotters. Davud, a Chinese Muslim who came to Norway in 1999, also is believed to have traveled to an al-Qaida training camp in Pakistan about two years ago.
Davud's defense lawyer, Carl Konow Rieber-Mohn, told AP he expects Norwegian investigators to try to get testimony from the three Americans that backs up the Pakistan link. While Davud has admitted to some of the terror allegations, he denies having traveled to al-Qaida camps in Pakistan.
Rieber-Mohn said he was already in New York and would be present during the questioning.
"If these interrogations are going to be valid in a Norwegian court, the defendant's lawyers must be present to be able to ask control questions," he said.
Davud was arrested in July last year along with Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd and Uzbek national David Jakobsen, who has since been released but remains a suspect in the investigation. Norwegian authorities also seized bomb-making material.
Bujak and Davud have confessed to plotting terrorism. Bujak said their planned target was a newspaper that caricatured Muhammad while Davud claims the target was the Chinese Embassy in Oslo. Investigators doubt Davud's version, saying he wasn't able to show them the embassy's location on a city map.
Bujak's lawyer Arvid Sjoedin, who was not traveling to New York, said he believed the testimony would primarily deal with Davud. The trial is expected to start in Oslo in October.
Ritter reported from Stockholm. Associated Press writer Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.