Skip to main content

Saudi native charged in New York with fighting for al Qaeda

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 5:05 PM EDT, Wed March 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Six-count indictment unveiled by federal prosecutors
  • Saudi native accused of targeting Americans overseas
  • Hearing set for Friday

(CNN) -- A Saudi native described by a federal law enforcement official as a "hardened" al Qaeda terrorist who targeted Americans in Afghanistan and North Africa is being held in New York, authorities revealed Wednesday.

The official spoke on background to CNN.

Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, known better to authorities by his nickname ''Spin Ghul," will be taken to federal court in Brooklyn on Friday afternoon for a status hearing on a series of charges.

Harun has been secretly held in custody in New York since he was extradited to the U.S. from Italy and arraigned in October 2012.

New al Qaeda document sheds light on Europe, U.S. attack plans

Officials on Wednesday unsealed a six-count indictment that was handed down last month by a federal grand jury.

In the indictment, the defendant is charged with conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring to bomb U.S. government facilities, conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda and a number of firearms and explosives charges. If convicted on all charges, Harun faces a possible life sentence.

"The defendant was a prototype al Qaeda operative, trained by al-Qaeda in terrorist tradecraft, deployed to fight American servicemen and dispatched to commit terrorist attacks throughout the world," said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn.

A statement by the Justice Department says despite his Saudi birth, Harun claims to be a citizen of Niger.

Report: Al Qaeda kills French hostage held in Mali

Officials say he fought in Afghanistan for al Qaeda from shortly before the 9/11 attacks until he was dispatched to Africa. Harun allegedly plotted to attack the U.S. embassy in Nigeria, but was unable to carry out the mission.

In early 2005, Harun was arrested in Libya and held there until June 2011, when he was released.

However, aboard a refugee ship from Libya to Italy, a Justice official says Harun got into an altercation with Italian guards, and remained in Italian custody until he was turned over to U.S. agents, who within hours whisked him to New York.

CNN's Carol Cratty and Ross Levitt contributed to this story.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT