Two Yemeni nationals linked to al-Qaeda have been charged with conspiring to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan and providing material support and resources, including personnel, to the jihadist group.
Saddiq Al-Abbadi, 36, and Ali Alvi, 30, appeared in a Brooklyn federal court to face charges after they were arrested in Saudi Arabia and turned over to U.S. authorities, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Court documents show that, in 2008, the two Yemenis allegedly traveled to Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border for the purpose of training with and fighting for al-Qaeda.
In the criminal complaint, the defendants are accused of traveling from Pakistan to Afghanistan to carry out attacks against U.S. military personnel in 2008.
Al-Abbadi is also accused of having engaged in attacks against American soldiers in Iraq between 2003 and 2007.
In May 2008, he allegedly led a battle against U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s Paktya Province where one U.S. Army Ranger was killed and several other American service members were seriously wounded.
Also in 2008, “both defendants helped an American citizen gain entry into al-Qaeda so that he could fight against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and U.S. citizens in the homeland,” reported DOJ.
That American citizen has been identified as Bryant Neil Vinas, a recruit form New York who plotted to bomb the Long Island Rail Road.
Vinas was captured by Pakistani forces in 2008 and has pled guilty to charges that include conspiracy to murder.
Al-Abbadi allegedly traveled through Iran to meet with high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, including the third ranking member of the terrorist group behind only Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Alvi is accused of having trained with explosives and other high-powered weapons before crossing to Afghanistan in 2008 to attack U.S. soldiers.
He allegedly grew dissatisfied with al-Qaeda senior leadership and joined the Taliban.
“There is no escape from the reach of our law for violent terrorists, especially if they target our military,” said United States Attorney Lynch. “Al-Abbadi and Alvi may have operated in the mountains of Afghanistan, but now they face justice in a courtroom in Brooklyn.”
Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
“During the course of this investigation, I have learned that Al Qaeda maintains training facilities and safe houses within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan,” explains Henry Heim, an FBI agent, in the criminal complaint.
The Pentagon has accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to jihadists seeking to attack U.S. forces across the border in Afghanistan.
The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is considered a “significant threat” by the U.S.
President Obama recently released five Yemenis from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, sending four to Oman and one to Estonia.