Member Of Al-Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula, Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni Affiliate, Indicted In Brooklyn Federal Court
An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging a Nigerian citizen with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”), and using high-powered firearms in furtherance of that crime. The United States is currently seeking the extradition of the defendant, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapha,” from Nigeria.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division; and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office. United States Attorney Lynch acknowledged the continued cooperation and assistance of the government of Nigeria in terrorism matters affecting both nations.
According to court documents, 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.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The case is assigned to the United States District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.
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 Trial Attorney Timothy Hammer of the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.
LAWAL OLANIYI BABAFEMI