Through the help of a former American member of Al Qaeda, two Yemeni men have been arrested and charged in the United States for allegedly providing material support to Al Qaeda and conspiring to kill US military forces in Afghanistan in 2008.
A complaint and arrest warrant unsealed Tuesday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York revealed that Saddiq Al Abbadi, also known as “Sufiyan Al Yemeni" and “Sufwan,” and Ali Alvi, also known as “Issa Al Yemeni, are members of Al Qaeda who allegedly engaged in attacks against US military forces stationed in Afghanistan.
“With the charges announced, these defendants will face justice for conspiring to kill Americans overseas and providing material support to Al Qaeda,” said Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin. “Seeking to identify, thwart, and hold accountable those who target US citizens and interests around the world will remain a top priority of the National Security Division.”
Al Abbadi and Alvi were arrested in Saudi Arabia pursuant to the pending warrants in the case and lawfully expelled to the United States. In addition to engaging in attacks against the US military in 2008 in Afghanistan, Al Abbadi also fought against United States military forces in Iraq between 2003 and 2007.
Around March 2008, Al Abbadi and Alvi traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan for the purpose of training with and fighting for Al Qaeda. During that time period, both defendants helped an American citizen gain entry into al Qaeda so that he could fight against US troops in Afghanistan and US citizens in the homeland.
“The arrest and prosecution of these two individuals, who allegedly directly supported the mission of a designated terrorist organization, is a major step in the international cooperation to combat terrorism,” said FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe. “On a daily basis, the FBI is faced with a complex threat environment that is always evolving and changing. Through international partnerships, the FBI will continue to pursue those whoprovide support to terrorist groups and ensure that they are brought to justice.”
Court documents indicate that in 2009 Bryant Neal Vinas, a Long Island-native, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder 12 US nationals, receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization, and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, including information about the New York transit system and Long Island Railroad System as targets for potential attacks.
Vinas, who has been cooperating with prosecutors, has emerged as a cooperating witness in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) case against Al-Abbadi and Alvi. A statement by the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the Yemenis “helped an American citizen gain entry into Al Qaeda.” A letter from the prosecutors to the court revealed Vinas as that American.
The complaint in the case against Al Abbadi and Alvi revealed the two Yemenis allegedly helped the cooperating witness—Vinas—join Al Qaeda. Vinas traveled to Pakistan in 2007 with the intention of waging violent jihad against US armed forces in Afghanistan. After not immediately being admitted to Al Qaeda, he met the Yemenis at a safe house and they offered to help him.
After Vinas gained entrance in Al Qaeda, he participated in a three-stage Al Qaeda training program designed to prepare recruits to fight and kill United States and allied forces in Afghanistan. The complaint said, “The first course was a basic weapons course that involved training on how to use grenades and fire several weapons. The second course involved explosives training. The thirdcourse involved training on projectile weapons.”
After participating in terrorist activity, including a rocket attack against US military, Vinas was arrested by Pakistani police in 2008 and brought back to the United States.
During this time, Al Abbadi and Alvi traveled from Pakistan to Afghanistan to conduct attacks against United States military personnel stationed there. Al Abbadi led a battle against US forces in Paktya Province in May 2008 during which one US Army Ranger was killed and several others were seriously wounded.
“There is no escape from the reach of our law for violent terrorists, especially if they target our military,” said Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Al Abbadi and Alvi may have operated in the mountains of Afghanistan, but now they face justice in a courtroom in Brooklyn.”
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.