Al Qaeda operative Abid Naseer was sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge to 40 years in prison as the ringleader in a plot to bomb U.S. and European locations.

Naseer and his accomplices had planned to attack the New York City subway system and a shopping center in Manchester, England, but were caught during a lengthy investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

"This al-Qaeda plot was intended by the group's leaders and Naseer to send a message to the United States and its allies," U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York said in a Tuesday statement. "Today's sentence sends an even more powerful message in response: terrorists who target the U.S. and its allies will be held accountable for their violent crimes to the full extent of the law."

The Justice Department said the attack was "directed and coordinated with senior Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan."

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