A Nigerian citizen, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi has been charged with providing material support to al Qaeda before a United States District Judge at the federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York on Friday September 27 2013.
According to FBI press release, the defendant was charged with “providing material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and using firearms in furtherance of that crime” and denied bail after being extradited from Nigeria.
The charges and arraignment were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division; and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendant was a member of a violent terrorist organization bent on doing harm to the United States and its allies. The defendant threw his efforts behind al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media, recruitment, and weapons training campaigns in an effort to strengthen the terrorist group’s grip on the region and extend its reach throughout the world. We will use every tool at our disposal to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in a manner consistent with our laws,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch also expressed her grateful appreciation to the government of Nigeria for its assistance and cooperation in this extradition.
“As alleged, the defendant trained with al Qaeda, assisted in its propaganda efforts, and actively recruited others to join its demented cause. We will continue to work with our international partners to mitigate the global terrorist threat,” stated FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.
According to court documents, the defendant travelled twice from Nigeria to Yemen between January 2010 and August 2011, approximately, to meet and train with leaders of AQAP, the Yemen based branch of al Qaeda. It was also alleged that he received the equivalent of almost $9,000 in cash to recruit other English speakers from Nigeria to join the group.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison on each of the material support charges and up to life on each of the firearms charges.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Zainab Ahmad and Hilary Jager, with assistance from Trial Attorney William M. Narus of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.