A 43-year-old man from Saudi Arabia has been indicted in federal court in Brooklyn and will stand trial on charges that he plotted to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and U.S. diplomats in Nigeria, prosecutors said Wednesday afternoon.
But federal officials say he has been in the U.S. since last fall and has been cooperating with investigators.
Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, who allegedly uses the alias “Spin Ghul,” is accused of al Qaeda-related activities going back to 2001.
Prosecutors say Huran went from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan with the intent to wage violent jihad. He arrived in Afghanistan shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the feds say, and then joined al Qaeda, receiving military training.
Investigators say the suspect fought against U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan with an al Qaeda fighting group based in Pakistan. "He was in firefights with U.S. soldiers," one official told NBC News.
Harun is accused of trying to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003. From there, prosecutors say he went to Africa with the intent to carry out attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Nigeria.
Justice Department officials say he was arrested in Libya in 2005 and confined there until 2011, when the in-flux Libyan government released him.
Authorities in Italy arrested him after was accused of assaulting officers on a refugee ship. The U.S. filed charges against him a year ago and sought extradition. He was taken to the U.S. last October, where he's been ever since.
"Whether they try to attack our servicemen on the battlefield or scheme to kill our diplomats and citizens in embassies abroad, terrorists will find no refuge," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement Wednesday. "The United States will use every tool at our disposal to protect our nation’s security and stop terrorist attacks before they happen.”
Only today did the government make the case public, a sure sign that he was been cooperating ever since.
Harun is the latest al Qaeda-linked figure to be sent to New York City for civilian trial.
Earlier this month, Sulaiman Abu Gaith, a son-in-law and spokesman for Osama bin Laden, was brought to New York for trial on terror-related charges. He was sent to the city despite objection from some congressional Republicans who believe terrorists should be held in military custody at Guantanamo Bay.
Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report