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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.

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