WASHINGTON (June 14) – A Somali native living in Ohio has been charged with plotting with other al-Qaida operatives to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.
The four-count indictment, returned by a grand jury in Columbus, Ohio, charges that Nuradin Abdi, 32, conspired with admitted al-Qaida member Iyman Faris and others to detonate a bomb at the unidentified shopping mall after he obtained military-style training in Ethiopia.
Abdi is also charged with fraud and misuse of documents by claiming that he had been granted valid asylum status in the United States. In fact, prosecutors say, he obtained that refugee document under false pretenses.
There also is one count each of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, in this case al-Qaida.
The charges against Abdi, who has been in custody since November on immigration-related violations, were handed up by the grand jury last Thursday.
A government motion seeking to keep Abdi in detention says he returned to the United States from Africa in March 2000 and was met at the airport in Columbus by Faris. Those two and other unidentified coconspirators were involved in the alleged shopping mall plot, prosecutors say.
One of the immigration charges contends that Abdi concealed his true destination when he applied on April 27, 1999, for a U.S. travel document. He said he was going to Germany and Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca and relatives.
In fact, ”as the defendant well knew, he planned to travel to Ogaden, Ethiopia, for the purpose of obtaining military-style training in preparation for violent Jihad,” the indictment says.
The training allegedly included use of guns, bombs and guerrilla warfare.
Faris is serving a 20-year federal sentence after pleading guilty last June to providing material support to al-Qaida. Faris, an Ohio-based truck driver originally from Kashmir, admitted plotting to sever the cables supporting the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and to derail trains in New York or Washington.
Neither of those plots came to fruition.
Faris had received instructions from top al-Qaida leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for what might have been a second wave of attacks to follow those of Sept. 11, 2001, investigators say. Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the hijackings, is in U.S. custody at an undisclosed overseas location.
It’s frightening to think of this happening so close to home. Especially since I love to shop.