New York - A Nigerian
citizen pleaded not guilty in a U.S. federal court in Brooklyn on Friday
to helping an al Qaeda affiliate recruit English-speaking people in
Between January 2010 and August 2011, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi traveled twice from Nigeria to Yemen to train with leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP, U.S. prosecutors said in a statement.
33, helped AQAP's media operations, including the publication of its
magazine, called "Inspire," according to the statement.
group's leadership, including Anwar al-Awlaki, paid Babafemi almost
$9,000 to recruit English-speaking people from Nigeria, according to
prosecutors. Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
also known as "Ayatollah Mustapha," was charged with four counts in an
indictment, including conspiracy to provide material support to AQAP and
use of firearms. He faces life in prison if convicted on firearms
charges and up to 15 years in prison on the material support charges.
U.S. District Judge John Gleeson on Friday ordered Babafemi held without bail.
In August, a Nigerian court granted a U.S. request for Babafemi's extradition.
United States and other Western powers are closely watching Nigeria, a
supplier of oil with widespread poverty. They fear that al Qaeda-linked
militants could launch attacks from the West African nation, which is
facing a Sunni Islamist insurgency in its north.
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," Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern
District of New York, said in a prepared statement on Friday.
will use every tool at our disposal to combat al Qaeda and other
terrorist groups in a manner consistent with our laws," Lynch said.