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FG Moves To Extradite Al-Qaeda Suspect 'Ayatollah Mustapher'

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SAN FRANCISCO, August 02, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government has indicated its interest to extradite a Nigerian, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, who is a suspected al-Qaeda member.

The authorities have therefore filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja for the extradition of the 32-year-old man, who is also known as "Abdullah" and "Ayatollah Mustapher" in the United States, where he is being wanted for alleged involvement in terrorism related activities.

In an extradition application filed before the court, the Federal Government tendered as exhibit a four-count charge marked:13CR-109-JG, filed against the suspect before the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York and a bench warrant issued for his arrest by a US magistrate.

Babatunde is charged with "conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organisation, provision and attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, unlawful use of firearms and conspiracy to unlawfully use firearms."

The offences, on conviction, attract a minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life in prison.

The suspect, who until now, was based in the US, fled to Nigeria when he got to know that he was to be arrested by the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Currrently under arrest and detention of the Department of State Services (DSS), documents filed by the Federal Government before the Abuja court noted that the US authorities are of the view that Babafemi belongs to the "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)," an affiliate of al-Qaeda.

He was alleged to have travelled to Yemen between January 2010 and August 2011 to train with the group and relate with its senior members, including the now deceased Anwar al-Aulaqi and Samir Khan.

He was also said to have admitted, upon interrogation that he was paid about $8,600 by the AQAP to return to Nigeria and recruit some English speaking individuals to work in AQAP's English language media organization, which is believed to be the organisation's medium of radicalising English speakers, whom it recruits to commit terrorist attacks on its behalf.

The group had claimed responsibility for series of terrorist activities, including the December 25, 2009 bombing attempt in the US by a Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

The extradition application could not be heard when he was taken to court on Friday because it was served late on Babafemi's lawyer, S. O. Yahaya.

The prosecution's lawyer and Head, Central Authority Unit, Federal Ministry of Justice, Muslim Hassan, who said court processes were served on Babafemi a day before his appearnace in court, however agreed to Yahaya's request for more time to file his counter processes.

The president judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, therefore fixed hearing of the extradition application for August 28.