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Nigerian pleads guilty of aiding al-Qaeda in US

30 April 2014, 07:12

New York - A Nigerian citizen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to US charges of providing material support to an al-Qaeda affiliate, and participating in its media and recruitment campaigns.

Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, 33, appearing before a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The plea came ahead of a 14 July trial date and followed a Nigerian court's decision in August to grant a US request for Babafemi's extradition.

Prosecutors said that, from January 2010 to August 2011, Babafemi travelled from Nigeria to Yemen twice to meet with leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP.

"The defendant travelled to Yemen to put himself at the disposal of a violent terrorist organization that has repeatedly demonstrated its determination to inflict bodily and economic harm on the United States and its citizens," Brooklyn US Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

The US government said Babafemi worked on AQAP's media operations, including the publication of its magazine, called "Inspire."

The group's leadership, including Anwar al-Awlaki, paid Babafemi almost $9 000 to recruit English-speaking people from Nigeria, prosecutors said. Awlaki, a US citizen born in New Mexico, was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

An indictment unsealed in February 2013 charged Babafemi, also known as "Ayatollah Mustapha," with four counts including conspiracy to provide material support to AQAP, and use of firearms.

US District Judge John Gleeson scheduled sentencing for 27 August. Babafemi faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

- Reuters


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