An al-Qaeda operative, who had travelled to Pakistan and met leaders of the terror group there, has been convicted by a jury here on multiple terrorism offenses including conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan and bomb the US embassy in Nigeria.
Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, 46, a citizen of Niger, was convicted on all five counts presented to the jury, including conspiracy to murder US nationals, conspiracy to bomb a government facility, conspiracy to provide material support to foreign terrorist organisation al-Qaeda and use of explosives in connection with terrorist activities.
When sentenced in June, Harun faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Harun had traveled to Afghanistan in the weeks before the September 11 attacks and had joined al-Qaeda, trained at the group s training camps and participated in attacks on US and Coalition troops in Afghanistan in which two American service members were killed and others were seriously wounded in 2003.
He had also received training in explosives from an al-Qaeda weapons expert and traveled from Pakistan to Nigeria intending to attack US government facilities there.
“Harun is an al-Qaeda operative who targeted US personnel and diplomatic facilities across two continents. The evidence presented at trial established that the defendant and other jihadists attacked a US military patrol in Afghanistan, resulting in the death of two American soldiers and the serious injury of others,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B McCord for National Security.
During the two-week trial, the government established that immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, al-Qaeda military leaders sent Harun to training camps in Afghanistan, in anticipation of an American invasion.
At these camps, he learned how to use weapons and explosives and met top al Qaeda leaders. Harun then traveled to Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas region of Pakistan, where he operated under Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, one of bin Laden s deputies who was al-Qaeda’s top military commander in Afghanistan at that time.
In April, 2003, Harun and fellow jihadists ambushed a US military patrol from Firebase Shkin. Two US servicemen were killed in the attack and several others were seriously wounded. Harun was also wounded but escaped to Pakistan.
While recovering from his wounds in Pakistan, Harun met with senior al-Qaeda officials including Abu Faraj al-Libi, then al Qaeda s external operations chief and expressed his desire to engage in acts of terror against US interests outside of Afghanistan, specifically attacks similar to 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
He also swore formal allegiance to al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden through bin Laden’s military commander Abdul Hadi.
In summer of 2003, Harun traveled from Pakistan to Nigeria, where he planned to bomb the US Embassy.
In early 2005, Harun was arrested by Libyan authorities and held in custody until his release in June 2011.
Subsequently, Harun was arrested on June 24, 2011 by Italian authorities and was later extradited to the US to face charges pending in the Eastern District of New York.
(With inputs from PTI)