According to Nigerian news sources as well as an FBI press release dated Aug. 26, 2013, Nigerian Officials have requested their court to grant an extradition request for one of its citizens to the United States over charges of aiding the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda. An indictment was unsealed in federal court of Brooklyn, N.Y. on Aug. 26, 2013and requested the Nigerian government extradite Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, 33, to the United States.
Babafemi is a man accused of being a member of the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and assigned to find English-speaking recruits, court documents revealed. Babafemi is a citizen of Nigeria, where he is currently in custody, the court documents report. A hearing has been set in federal high court in the Nigerian capital Abuja for August 28.
According to the court documents, Babafemi traveled to Yemen twice between January 2010 and August 2011 to train with the Al-Qaeda group as well as to seek out senior members Anwar al-Awlaqi and Samir Khan. Both al-Awlaqi and Khan have since been killed in a drove attack. The court documents also reveal that Babafemi admitted traveling to Yemen to U.S. FBI agents. They add that he said 'AQAP members gave him … approximately $8,600 in order to return to Nigeria and recruit English-speaking individuals to work in AQAP's English-language media operation.
The indictment which was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charges Babafemi 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.
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 machine guns, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c); and one count of conspiracy to unlawfully use machine guns, 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. (FBI press release)
The public is reminded that indictment charges are not proof of guilt and suspects are considered innocent unless and until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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.