Alleged International Terrorist Arraigned Today In Brooklyn Federal Court, Following Extradition From Nigeria
As A Member Of Al-Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula, Nigerian Man Allegedly Received Weapons Training, Recruited Operatives, And Helped Publish ‘Inspire’ Magazine
Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, a Nigerian citizen 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, was arraigned today before United States District Judge John Gleeson at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. At this initial appearance in court in the United States after his extradition from Nigeria, Babafemi was ordered held without bail.
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 and the record of today’s proceeding, between approximately January 2010 and August 2011, the defendant traveled twice from Nigeria to Yemen to meet and train with leaders of AQAP, the Yemen-based branch of al-Qaeda. Babafemi assisted in AQAP’s English-language media operations, which include the publication of the magazine “Inspire.” At the direction of the now-deceased senior AQAP commander Anwar al-Aulaqi, Babafemi was provided by AQAP leadership with the equivalent of almost $9,000 in cash to recruit other English-speakers from Nigeria to join that group. While in Yemen, Babafemi also received weapons training from AQAP.
On February 21, 2013, a grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned a sealed indictment charging the defendant with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to AQAP, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B; one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to AQAP, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B; one count of unlawful use of machineguns, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c); and one count of conspiracy to unlawfully use machineguns, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(o). At the request of the United States, the Nigerian government thereafter commenced extradition proceedings against the defendant in July 2013, and he was ordered extradited in September 2013.
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.
LAWAL OLANIYI BABAFEMI