A member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen, was arraigned Friday in federal court in New York City after being extradited by the Nigerian government, according to the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The suspect, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, a Nigerian citizen, is charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury.
Babafemi is also charged with using firearms in furtherance of that crime. At this initial appearance in court in the United States after his extradition from Nigeria, Babafemi was ordered held without bail by Judge John Gleeson at the federal court building in borough of Brooklyn, N.Y.
“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 Loretta Lynch.
According to court documents and the record of Friday's arraignment, between January 2010 and August 2011, the 33-year-old suspect traveled from Nigeria to Yemen to meet and train with leaders of AQAP, the Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda. According to U.S. counterterrorists, Babadfemi made the trip to Yemen at least twice.
According to the prosecutors, Babafemi assisted in AQAP’s English-language media operations, which includes the publication of the jihadist magazine Inspire.
At the direction of the now-deceased senior AQAP leader, American-born Anwar al-Awlaqi, Babafemi was paid by AQAP almost $9,000 in cash to help recruit other English-speakers from Nigeria to join AQAP. While in Yemen, Babafemi also underwent weapons training from AQAP.
On Feb. 21, 2013, a federal grand jury in Brooklyn returned a sealed indictment charging the defendant with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to AQAP, one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to AQAP, one count of unlawful use of machine guns, and one count of conspiracy to unlawfully use machine guns.
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, according to law enforcement officials.