Senior Member Of Al-Qaeda Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Kill U.S. Soldiers In Iraq And Afghanistan And Providing Material Support To Al-Qaeda
Defendant Tried To Lure American Soldiers To A Compound In Afghanistan That Was Rigged With Explosives; Also Facilitated The Entry Of An American Citizen Into Al-Qaeda
Earlier today, Saddiq al-Abbadi, a Yemeni national, pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder U.S. nationals abroad, providing and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda, and using a machine gun in furtherance of those crimes. The guilty plea proceeding took place before United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis. At sentencing, al-Abbadi faces a maximum of life imprisonment.
The guilty plea was announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Field Office.
“The defendant was a high-level al-Qaeda operative with ties to the terrorist group’s senior leadership in both Pakistan and Yemen. He fought in battles against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, tried to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan by luring them to a compound rigged with explosives, and helped an American citizen gain entry to al-Qaeda,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie. “We stand resolute in our commitment to bring to justice those who would try to harm members of our military or who assist al-Qaeda’s efforts to kill Americans at home or abroad.”
“With the guilty plea entered today, Saddiq al-Abbadi will be held accountable for conspiring to kill Americans overseas and providing material support to al-Qaeda,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Seeking to identify, thwart, and hold accountable those who target U.S. citizens and interests around the world will remain a top priority of the National Security Division.”
“With today’s guilty plea, Al-Abbadi admitted to directly supporting the mission of a designated terrorist organization through planning an operation designed to kill U.S. forces and for engaging in recruitment efforts on behalf of al-Qaeda,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “This plea is due in no small part to the many FBI Special Agents, intelligence analysts, and linguists from the Washington and New York Field Offices as well as our interagency and international partners who spent countless hours investigating terrorism actors and al-Abbadi’s actions. The FBI will not rest until we find and hold accountable those who provide support to terrorist groups and ensure that they are brought to justice.”
According to court filings, al-Abbadi traveled from his home country of Yemen to Iraq where, from approximately late 2005 through early 2007, he fought alongside al-Qaeda affiliated battalions against U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.
In early 2008, al-Abbadi traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (“FATA”) of Pakistan in order to fight for al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. While in the FATA, al-Abbadi – who had longstanding ties to senior members of al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP – engaged directly with senior al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, including Sheikh Saeed al-Masri, at the time the third-ranking member of al-Qaeda.
During late spring and summer 2008, Al-Abbadi crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan for the purpose of fighting and killing members of the United States military stationed in Afghanistan. In June 2008, he planned an operation designed to lure U.S. forces to a compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan, that was rigged with explosives set to detonate upon their entry. When U.S. forces arrived at the compound, they found rocket-propelled grenades and artillery rounds littered about. One soldier observed wiring running from the exterior gate to the inside of the compound and recognized the trap. The military evacuated and subsequently leveled the compound.
In addition to fighting against the U.S. military, al-Abbadi used his connections with al-Qaeda’s leadership to help U.S. citizen Bryant Neal Vinas gain entry into al-Qaeda. Vinas had traveled to Pakistan from Long Island in the hopes of joining al-Qaeda and fighting against U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. As a result of al-Abbadi’s assistance, Vinas was allowed to join al-Qaeda. After participating in al-Qaeda’s military training program, Vinas developed a plan with senior al-Qaeda external operations leadership to conduct an attack on the Long Island Railroad in New York. Vinas was arrested before he could carry out this attack.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Michael P. Canty, and Douglas M. Pravda, are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Josh Parecki of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section and by the Office of International Affairs.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-124 (NGG)