Two Americans and former residents of Brooklyn were charged with assisting Al Qaeda, according to a report on the New York Times.
Thirty-three year-old Wesam El-Hanafi, an American citizen, and thirty-four-year-old Sabirhan Hasanoff, an American-Australian dual citizen, has “conspired to modernize Al Qaeda by providing computer systems expertise” as well as other services according to Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. The charges were revealed through an indictment that was unsealed on Friday in the Federal District Court in Manhattan.
According to the indictment, El-Hanafi and Hasanoff have been providing Al Qaeda with assistance since November of 2007. In 2008, El-Hanafi allegedly went to Yemen and while there met with a couple of Al Qaeda members “who instructed him on operational security measures and directed him to perform tasks”. He also swore allegiance to Al Qaeda, the indictment alleges.
El-Hanafi also reportedly bought software that would enable him to securely communicate with others online. He also allegedly bought Casio watches online in April of last year; the purchase was significant as these items have been used in previous cases in improvised explosive devices.
A federal magistrate judge in Alexandria, Virginia has ordered that the two men be detained. They will consequently be brought to Manhattan for the proceedings according to prosecutors. They are both charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Prosecutors claim that if they are convicted, El-Hanafi and Hasanoff can face 15 years in prison.