Federal prosecutors say they foiled a plot by a Kenyan national who allegedly planned a 911-style terror attack at the direction of the al-Shabab jihadist group.
Cholo Abdi Abdullah was arrested in the Philippines in July 2019 but the federal indictment against him was unsealed on Wednesday a day after he arrived in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday for prosecution.
Al-Shabab is an affiliate of al-Qaeda and has been blamed for numerous bloody attacks in East Africa.
Prosecutors allege that Abdullah received pilot training in order to attempt a terror plot to hijack a commercial airliner and fly it into a tall building of a major U.S. city. The city in the alleged plot was not identified.
"I plead not guilty to all the counts," Abdullah said at his arraignment.
The indictment further claims that Abdullah was allegedly under order from senior al-Shabaab leaders, that he obtained a pilot's license in the Philippines for the attack, and that he was in the process of seeking a U.S. visa. At the time of his arrest in the Philippines, local news reports said that he allegedly had in his possession a homemade bomb and a grenade.
Prosecutors filed 6 terror-related charges against Abdullah. He faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison if found guilty, but could receive a life sentence for the charges.
"This chilling callback to the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is a stark reminder that terrorist groups like al-Shabaab remain committed to killing U.S. citizens and attacking the United States," said acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in statement.
In 2013 the al-Shabab terror group called on all Muslims living in the West to launch terror attacks on non-Muslims.
Here's a local news report about the alleged terror plot:
Kenyan man charged with plotting 9/11-style attack on U.S. www.youtube.com