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Alleged Al Qaeda-linked terrorist indicted in New York

March 20, 2013|By Richard A. Serrano

WASHINGTON — A Nigerian allegedly involved with Al Qaeda activities at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., marking the second time this month the Obama administration has announced criminal charges against suspected terrorists.

The indictment in a civilian court comes despite the insistence of Republican lawmakers that alleged terrorists be turned over to military authorities for interrogation and prosecution.

Charged in a six-count indictment is Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, who faces life in prison if convicted of conspiring to murder U.S. nationals abroad, plotting to bomb U.S. government facilities in Africa and other charges. He is not expected to enter a plea to the allegations until his first court appearance, on Friday.

According to federal law enforcement officials in New York, Harun was secretly indicted in February last year and was taken into U.S. custody Oct. 4 when he was extradited from Italy after being arrested by Italian authorities on a ship bound for that country.

The indictment alleges that Harun, 43, who also goes by six aliases, including "Spin Ghul” and “Joseph Johnson,” traveled to Afghanistan just before the Sept. 11 attacks, joined Al Qaeda and began receiving military-type training at their camps. He is alleged to have fought against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan with an Al Qaeda group based in Pakistan and to have followed up with plans to bomb U.S. diplomatic buildings in Nigeria.

He was arrested in 2005 in Libya and was released in June 2011. He was arrested again by Italian officials after allegedly assaulting officers on a refugee ship bound for Italy. In July 2012, the Naples Court of Appeals  found him extraditable to the U.S. The Italian minister of justice ordered him turned over to the U.S. in September.

FBI agents took him into custody Oct. 4 and flew him that day to New York. The next day he was arraigned on the charges during a secret, sealed proceeding at the U.S. courthouse in Brooklyn.

“Harun not only intended to but did commit acts of terrorism against Americans,” said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos. “Now he is subject to the American justice system.”

The indictment is likely to raise fresh calls from Republicans demanding that Harun and Sulaiman abu Ghaith, a senior Al Qaeda leader and Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, be removed to the prison for terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They believe such suspects are more valuable undergoing interrogation for intelligence information and are better suited to be prosecuted in military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.

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richard.serrano@latimes.com

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