Kenyan man, 30, allegedly part of the al-Shabab terrorist organization, is charged after plotting 9/11-style terror attack on an American city
Cholo Abdi Abdullah allegedly spent years training to carry out a terror attack that would cost American lives; he will appear in a New York court later Wednesday
Abdullah, who has been in custody since 2019, took orders from an al-Shabab commander responsible for the Nairobi hotel attack in 2019, prosecutors said
The charges include conspiring to hijack aircraft in order to conduct a 9/11-style attack in the United States
He researched ways to enter the US and how to hijack a plane
Abdullah faces multiple charges and if convicted 20 years to life in prison
It is not clear which skyscrapers were part of the alleged plot which the acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney called ‘a chilling callback’ to 9/11
A Kenyan aviation student, who federal prosecutors say is a member of the terrorist organization al-Shabab, stands has been charged with plotting to fly an airliner into a United States’ skyscraper after he trained as a pilot in the Philippines.
Cholo Abdi Abdullah, 30, spent years training to carry out a 9/11-style attack, prosecutors say. Arrested in the Philippines and transfered to US on Tuesday, he will appear in a New York court later Wednesday.
The Department of Justice announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Cholo Abdi Abdullah with six counts of terrorism-related offenses arising from his activities as an operative of the foreign terrorist organization al Shabaab.
He is charged with conspiring to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization [al Shabaab], conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring to commit aircraft piracy, conspiring to destroy aircraft, and conspiring to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.
Filipino media reported his arrest in July 2019, though the details of the alleged plot were not known at the time.
According to Rappler.com, he had bomb making equipment and a gun when he was arrested. Subsequently he was transferred on Dec. 15, 2020, to face prosecution on the charges in the indictment.
The indictment said that under the direction of a senior Shabab commander who planned a deadly 2019 attack on a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, Abdullah the indictment said, sought to obtain pilot training, test flaws in airport security, and take other steps in preparation for hijacking a civil aircraft and conducting a terrorist attack on behalf of the Shabab.
The process began with his enrollment in a flight school in the Philippines in 2016, receiving pilot training.
Ultimately he completed the tests necessary to obtain his pilot’s license, according to the charges.
He also researched methods of hijacking a commercial airliner, like how to breach a cockpit door from the outside, as well as other airplane security issues, the indictment charged.
The indictment says Abdullah conducted research about the tallest building in a major U.S. city- which was not identified – and sought information about how to obtain an American visa.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: ‘This chilling callback to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, is a stark reminder that terrorist groups like al Shabaab remain committed to killing U.S. citizens and attacking the United States.’ He is expected to be presented today in New York’s Manhattan federal court.