Yemeni national Saddiq al-Abbadi pleads guilty to conspiring to kill U.S. troops

Story highlights

  • Saddiq al-Abbadi is accused of fighting U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • He faces a maximum life sentence
  • He was arrested by Saudi Arabia and was handed over to the U.S.

(CNN)A Yemeni national has pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, authorities said Tuesday.

Saddiq al-Abbadi also admitted to providing material support to al Qaeda, federal prosecutors in New York said in a statement.
He could receive a life sentence.
    "The defendant was a high-level al Qaeda operative with ties to the terrorist group's senior leadership in both Pakistan and Yemen," said acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie. "He fought in battles against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, tried to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan by luring them to a compound rigged with explosives, and helped an American citizen gain entry to al Qaeda."
    Al-Abbadi, 40, was among two men arrested in Saudi Arabia and then transferred to U.S. custody. Al-Abbadi had already served more than five years of a 12-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia before he was handed over.
    Prosecutors say al-Abbadi traveled from Yemen to Iraq, where he fought from 2005 to 2007 with al Qaeda-linked forces against American soldiers. He went to Pakistan in 2008, worked with senior members of al Qaeda and then traveled to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces there, according to the complaint.
    After that, he went to Afghanistan. In June 2008, he attempted to booby-trap a compound, but U.S. forces noticed the wiring and also saw ordnance lying around. No one was killed as the troops left, and the area was destroyed later.
    Al-Abbadi also helped American Bryant Neal Vinas join al Qaeda.
    Vinas, a native of New York, pleaded guilty in January 2009 to charges of aiding al Qaeda and helping attack a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, but his case was kept secret until July 2009. Authorities accused Vinas of firing rockets at the base along with others in September 2008, and of providing al Qaeda with information about the New York transit system and the Long Island Railroad. Vinas had been arrested in Pakistan late in 2008.
    Ali Alvi, the other man who was arrested with al-Abbadi, has pleaded not guilty, according to media reports.