Al-Qaeda-Trained, Would-Be London Airport Bomber Pleads Guilty in U.S.

Department of Justice
Department of Justice

Former London, England, resident Minh Quang Pham pleaded guilty Friday to charges relating to his support for terrorist organization al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and conspiring with terrorist mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

By his own admission, Pham, 33, traveled from his London home in December 2010 to Yemen to join designated terrorist organization AQAP with the intention of waging jihad and martyring himself for the cause.

“Pham swore a terrorist’s oath to wage jihad for AQAP,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said on Friday, adding:

Pham traveled to Yemen to receive terrorist training, including instructions in bomb-making by the now-deceased senior AQAP leader Anwar Aulaqi (Awlaki). Vowing to wage violent jihad and brandishing a Kalashnikov rifle, Pham provided material support to the highest levels of AQAP.

While in Yemen in 2010 and 2011, Awlaki “personally taught Pham how to create a lethal explosive device using household chemicals, and directed Pham to detonate such an explosive device at the arrivals area of London’s Heathrow International Airport following Pham’s return to the United Kingdom in 2011,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York.

During Pham’s time in Yemen, he assisted with the production and dissemination of AQAP propaganda magazine Inspire.

Upon return to London on July 27, 2011, Pham was detained at Heathrow International Airport. United Kingdom authorities searched Pham and recovered electronic materials consistent with those provided by a cooperating witness who was with Pham in Yemen. Authorities also discovered on Pham “a live round of .762 caliber armor-piercing ammunition, which is consistent with ammunition that is used in a Kalashnikov assault rifle.”

It was not until almost a year later, on June 29, 2012, that authorities in the U.K. arrested Pham. The arrest was made when the USAO, Southern District of New York, indicted Pham and obtained a provisional arrest warrant and a request for Pham’s extradition to the United States. Pham challenged the extradition and lost.

On February 26, 2015, Pham was delivered to the Southern District of New York.

Pham pleaded guilty on Friday “to one count of providing material support to AQAP, one count of conspiring to receive military training from AQAP, and one count of possessing and using a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.


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