NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. prosecutors have charged an alleged al Qaeda operative with plotting to kill American diplomats in Nigeria and conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan.
Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, also known as “Spin Ghul,” was named in court papers that were made public in New York City on Wednesday.
United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said Harun, 43, received al Qaeda training in Pakistan in 2003 before traveling to Africa with the intent to conduct attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Nigeria while conspiring with others to bomb those facilities.
Harun also allegedly attempted to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003.
“Whether they try to attack our servicemen on the battlefield, or scheme to kill our diplomats and citizens in embassies abroad, terrorists will find no refuge,” said Lynch. “The United States will use every tool at our disposal to protect our nation’s security and stop terrorist attacks before they happen.”
“We remain committed to protecting the safety of Americans and our national security,” said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos.
Harun also been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda, providing material support to al Qaeda and related firearms and explosives counts.
Prosecutors said Harun was born in Saudi Arabia, but claims citizenship in Niger. He was extradited from Italy to the United States last October and arraigned in Brooklyn during a sealed proceeding, according to a release U.S. Attorney Lynch.
Harun was arrested by Italian authorities after he assaulted officers on board a refugee ship that was bound for Italy.
Before that arrest, Harun went to Libya en route to Europe before being apprehended in early 2005. He was in Libyan custody until June 2011 before being released by the Libyan government.
According to the indictment and other court documents, Harun went from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan intending to fight violent jihad beginning in 2001.
Those documents also indicate Harun arrived in Afghanistan shortly before the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Harun then joined al Qaeda and received military-type training at al Qaeda training camps before ultimately fighting against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan with an al Qaeda fighting group that was based in Pakistan, according to Lynch.
“As more al-Qaeda operatives continue to be flushed from hiding, the NYPD remains vigilant to the fact that terrorists have repeatedly since 9/11 plotted to kill more Americans. We are determined not to let that happen,” said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Prosecutors said Harun would appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday. If convicted of all the charges in the indictment, Harun faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
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