An indictment was unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn charging a Nigerian citizen with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”), and using high-powered firearms in furtherance of that crime. The United States is currently seeking the extradition of the defendant, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapha,” from Nigeria.
According to court documents, between approximately January 2010 and August 2011, the defendant, 33, traveled twice from Nigeria to Yemen to meet and train with leaders of AQAP, the Yemen-based branch of al-Qaeda. Babafemi assisted in AQAP’s English-language media operations, which include the publication of the magazine “Inspire.”
At the direction of the now-deceased senior AQAP commander Anwar al-Aulaqi, Babafemi was provided by AQAP leadership with the equivalent of almost $9,000 in cash to recruit other English-speakers from Nigeria to join that group. While in Yemen, Babafemi also received weapons training from AQAP.
On Feb. 21, 2013, a Brooklyn federal court grand jury returned a sealed indictment charging the defendant with conspiracy to provide material support to AQAP, unlawful use of machine guns, and related charges.
At the request of the United States, the Nigerian government thereafter commenced extradition proceedings against the defendant in July 2013.
Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson has been assigned as trial judge.