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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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    Saajid Badat released early in return for cooperation
    Suleiman Abu Ghaith on trial for conspiring to kill Americans

    A British man who plotted to shoe-bomb a plane for al-Qaida will on Monday begin a series of appearances as a star witness for the US government, testifying from London against Osama bin Ladens son-in-law and propagandist.

    Saajid Badat, who became a valuable turncoat after being jailed in 2005, is due to be beamed via video link into the Manhattan courtroom a few blocks from Ground Zero where Suleiman Abu Ghaith is on trial for conspiring to kill Americans and giving support to the jihadist network.

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    After 9/11 the agency was given free rein to break the rules but when allowed to play dirty abroad, it's difficult to stop at home

    Little more than a week after 9/11, Cofer Black gave instructions to his CIA team before their mission. "I don't want Bin Laden and his thugs captured, I want them dead I want to see photos of their heads on pikes. I want Bin Laden's head shipped back in a box filled with dry ice. I want to show Bin Laden's head to the president. I promised him I would do that."

    A month later, at a meeting sponsored by Schwab Capital markets, CIA executive director "Buzzy" Krongard laid out for investors what such a war would entail. "[It] will be won in large measure by forces you do not know about, in actions you will not see and in ways you may not want to know about," he said.

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    Prosecutors use Saajid Badats testimony to show that Abu Ghaith Suleiuman conspired to create a second wave of terrorist attacks after 9/11

    A British man who was supposed to take down an airplane with a shoe bomb in 2001 until he backed out of the conspiracy is set to resume testimony in the trial of Osama bin Ladens son-in-law with a description of what happened in the weeks after the terrorist attacks.

    Prosecutors began questioning Saajid Badat on Monday to try to show that then al-Qaida spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith knew what he was talking about when he threatened Americans in the weeks after September 11 with a second wave of airplane attacks.

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    Want closure for attacks on America? Youll get more at a trial near Ground Zero than a torturous commission at Guantánamo

    The American public has had a pretty good demonstration over the last couple of weeks in how a US federal court handles a big terrorism case. The New York City trial of Osama bin Ladens son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, has so far gone off without a hitch: jury was selected, opening statements were made, evidence was produced, witnesses were questioned.

    Which is to say, apart from the extra metal detector outside courtroom 26A and an uptick in media interest, it was more or less business as usual for the US District Court in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from the World Trade Center site.

    In disrupting potential attacks and effectively interrogating, prosecuting and incarcerating terrorists, there is, quite simply, no more powerful tool than our civilian court system.

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    In courtroom surprise, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith testified through an Arabic interpreter that he had wanted to get to know Bin Laden

    In a courtroom surprise, al-Qaidas spokesman after the September 11 attacks took the witness stand on his own behalf Wednesday at his terrorism trial, testifying that Osama bin Laden asked him in 2001 to lecture to training camp recruits.

    Sulaiman Abu Ghaiths decision to testify was announced by his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who surprised a nearly empty courtroom that quickly filled with spectators as word spread.

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    Robert ONeill took part in the mission against the al-Qaida leader but some special forces personnel criticise him for breaking code of silence

    The former navy Seal Robert ONeill, who says he fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden, played a role in some of the most consequential combat missions of the post-9/11 era, including three depicted in Hollywood movies. He is now telling the world about them.

    By doing so, ONeill has almost certainly increased his earning power on the speaking circuit. He may also have put himself and his family at greater risk. And he has earned the enmity of some current and former Seals by violating their code of silence.

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    With Islamic State militants just kilometres from the country’s western border, and increasingly radical anti-Shia militants to the east in Pakistan, Gareth Smyth examines Iran’s Sunni problem

    Nearly ten years ago, a story circulating in Tehran had Mohammad Khatami say of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his successor as president, “No matter how extreme you are, you will always be in a queue behind Ousama [bin Laden].”

    This may well have been an urban folk tale, but it highlighted a fear that Ahmadinejad’s assertive Shi’ism was not in Iran’s best interests. Rather than spread Iranian influence, unleash a revolution of the world’s dispossessed, or liberate Jerusalem from the Israelis, Iranian radicalism carried the danger of a backlash from Sunnis Muslims, who are around 80% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, while Shia are 10-15% and a majority in only Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain.

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    Ex-navy seal Matt Bissonette wrote a bestseller on the raid in Abbottabad, but is now being threatened by the US government and contradicted by his former colleague Robert O’Neill in the press. So why has he written another book – and who really killed Al Qaida’s most wanted?

    This week, Matt Bissonnette will undergo surgery to remove remnants of the most famous gunfight of this century from his body. Fragments of rounds fired as he and fellow US navy Seals raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in northern Pakistan in May 2011 are embedded near a nerve in his right shoulder, and his fingers have started to go numb.

    Yet he doubts he will be taking home any shrapnel as a souvenir. “And I don’t keep tabs on how many people I’ve killed, or any of that kind of stuff,” he says breezily.

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    Western sanctions mean credit cards don’t work and iPhones crash on arrival, with few visitors witnessing the wealth of attractions on offer

    The fine stone carving shows a wide-hipped Nubian queen triumphant over Romans and other foreign pretenders to her throne. Beyond the chapel are the remains of the pyramid that was her royal tomb. In immaculate silence, dozens more ancient pyramids dot the landscape where, as Shelley put it, “the lone and level sands stretch far away”.

    This is Meroë in Sudan, a country that boasts more pyramids than Egypt. The road to Meroë was built by an unlikely entrepreneur – Osama bin Laden, who later relocated to Afghanistan. This is just one example of the weird and wonderful experience of being a tourist in Sudan. That so few make the trip is, critics say, an indictment of the government’s failure to exploit its fabulous potential as a destination.

    Bin Laden the construction worker

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    Terrorists can kill and maim, but they cannot topple governments. We must not hand them victory by treating this massacre as an act of war

    Why does it happen? Whenever a political outrage is committed, the sensible question is to ask: what does its perpetrator want? What reaction does he seek, and what does he not seek?

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    Khalid al-Fawwaz will appear charged with planning attacks and setting up al-Qaida’s media office, among other things

    Analysis: attacks that propelled Bin Laden into the limelight

    On the morning of 7 August 1998 Ellen Karas saw her colleague peering out of the window of the US embassy in Nairobi, watching an altercation outside. It would be the last thing she ever saw. “I didn’t even hear the bomb blast,” Karas told the Guardian. “I was knocked out completely.”

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    Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania allowed Saudi and al-Qaida to also claim leadership of a fragmented Islamist militant movement

    • Marathon of bringing attackers to justice continues in New York

    When news broke of the double bombings in east Africa, it was not just western security services that suddenly began to take Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida group seriously. Many within the Islamist militant movement were impressed.

    Until that moment, Bin Laden had been seen as something of a dilettante, a rich young man who had never experienced first-hand the tough, day-to-day battle in streets, safe houses and cells across the Middle East that Islamist militancy had meant until that point.

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    Helmed by Borat director Larry Charles, the film is based on the true story of Gary Faulkner, a US construction worker who became determined to pursue the terrorist leader

    Nicolas Cage will play an ordinary American who sets out to hunt down Osama Bin Laden in director Larry Charles’s satirical comedy Army of One, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

    Based loosely on the story of Gary Faulkner, a Colorado construction worker with health problems who tried to make his way into Pakistan and Afghanistan on several occasions in search of the al-Qaida leader, the film will be Charles’s followup to Sacha Baron Cohen comedies Borat, Bruno and The Dictator.

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    Oil has always given the Gulf monarchy huge power. But the US may be less dependent in future – and the world is fast losing patience with Saudi Arabia’s stance on human rights and extremism. Will King Abdullah’s death change anything?

    It would be far-fetched to describe the US and Britain’s long-term relationship with Saudi Arabia as a love affair, although elements of romance, blind infatuation and lustful mutual gratification have never been entirely absent.

    But what has become painfully clear from the furious row over the sycophantic official reaction in Washington and London to the death, this month, of King Abdullah is how much the relationship has changed, at least on the west’s side of the bed.

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    Extremist serving life in prison for his role in the 9/11 attacks makes new claims about dealings with the kingdom that while intriguing don’t pass the smell test

    Zacarias Moussaoui, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 9/11 attacks, has claimed that al-Qaida received donations from some of the most senior members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family even after Osama bin Laden’s declaration of war against the US in 1998.

    In a court deposition this week, the French Algerian extremist also said that he met with a Saudi diplomat posted in Washington to discuss a plan to assassinate the US president using a surface-to-air missile and plotted to bomb the US embassy in London.

    Related: US officials: 9/11 plotter's claims Saudi royals aided al-Qaida 'inconceivable'

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    • MI5 agents appear in Brooklyn court wearing wigs, glasses and false beards
    • Abid Naseer accused of al-Qaida plot to bomb New York subway

    British spies testifying at the trial of an al-Qaida suspect in Brooklyn, New York, wore false hair, beards, makeup and eyeglasses to disguise their identities as they described trailing the suspect, Abid Naseer, through a shopping mall, to a mosque and on to a coach.

    Naseer, a Pakistani citizen who lived in England on a student visa in 2009, is being tried in US federal court for an alleged plot to carry out multiple attacks including bombing the New York City subway system and bombing the Arndale Centre in Manchester.

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    Rare images of the al-Qaida leader in a mountainous region of Afghanistan released by US prosecutors during the trial of Khaled al-Fawwaz. The photographs were shot by Abdel Barri Atwan, the founder and then editor of al-Quds al-Arabi, an independent Arabic weekly published in London, who was invited to Bin Laden’s compound

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    Two militant groups claim responsibility - one claiming the killing of Samiullah Afridi was in retaliation for his support of Dr Shakil Afridi

    A Pakistani lawyer under death threats for defending a doctor who helped CIA agents hunt al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was shot dead on Tuesday, police said.

    Samiullah Afridi represented Dr Shakil Afridi, who was jailed in 2012 for 33 years for running a fake vaccination campaign believed to have helped the US intelligence agency track down bin Laden. That sentence was overturned in 2013 and the doctor is now in jail awaiting a new trial.

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    As government ministers and top businessmen are charged over the Anglo Leasing scandal, whistleblower John Githongo argues this fraud has played into the hands of terrorists

    After 12 years of scandal anti-corruption authorities in Kenya have finally brought charges against key people allegedly involved in what has become known as one of the country’s biggest corruption cases.

    Facing court are former finance ministers, permanent secretaries, senior officials and businessmen, all of whom deny the charges – regarded as a breakthrough in the country’s fight against corruption which saw Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Swiss authorities working together for the first time.

    Many senior public officials knew that low scrutiny 'national security' is the last refuge of the corrupt

    Skepticism

    The prosecuations are totally without precedent, in a country where elite impunity with regard to corruption is the norm

    For many profit trumps security and for some in the international community security trumps democracy and accountability

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    A group of young medics recently travelled to Syria to work in Islamic State-controlled hospitals. Khalid Abdelaziz visited Khartoum to investigate their path to radicalisation

    Tasneem Hussein was a soft-spoken university student in Khartoum when the transformation slowly began.

    After returning to Sudan from Britain to study pharmacology she swapped her jeans for the head-to-toe niqab covering, but there were no signs of the dramatic move she was planning.

    Related: How a WhatsApp message told British families their children had entered Syria

    We, the parents would like to announce that our children have good intentions

    Related: How Isis came to be

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