FG to extradite Al-Qaeda suspect to US

By The Rainbow

The Federal Government has begun moves to extradite to the United States a man accused of being a member of the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen and assigned to find English-speaking recruits, court documents said Tuesday.

The suspect identified as Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, aka 'Abdullah' or 'Ayatollah Mustapha', is alleged to be a member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and has been indicted on four charges in the United States, including supporting a foreign terrorist group.

The 33-year-old is a citizen of Nigeria, where he is currently in custody, the court documents say. A hearing has been set in federal high court in the Nigerian capital Abuja for August 28.

According to the documents, Babafemi traveled to Yemen between January 2010 and August 2011 to train with the Al-Qaeda group as well as to seek out senior members Anwar al-Awlaqi and Samir Khan.

Yemeni-born American radical cleric al-Awlaqi as well as Khan have since been killed in a drone strike.

In interviews with FBI agents, 'Babafemi admitted traveling to Yemen,' the court documents say.

They add that he said 'AQAP members gave him … approximately $8,600 in order to return to Nigeria and recruit English-speaking individuals to work in AQAP's English-language media operation.'

The four charges against him in the United States include conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation and unlawful use of firearms. The documents say he received firearms training.

The indictment was filed in the United States on February 21 in the US district court in the eastern district of New York.

Court documents do not say how long Babafemi had been in Nigeria before his arrest.

Local media reported that he had fled to Nigeria when he learned of the arrest warrant against him in the United States, but the information could not be confirmed.

It would not be the first time a Nigerian has been accused of acting on behalf of AQAP.

'Underwear bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been sentenced to life in prison in the United States over his failed attempt to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen in 2009 and met with al-Awlaqi.

There was no indication in the documents that Babafemi was linked to Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which has been waging a deadly insurgency mainly in the country's north.

Western nations have closely monitored links between Boko Haram and outside extremist groups. Boko Haram members have trained with Al-Qaeda's north African affiliate in Mali, but the extent of any further cooperation remains unclear.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.