A Kenyan close to radical Somali Islamists Shebab, arrested in 2019 in the Philippines, was transferred Tuesday to the United States announced Wednesday the American justice, which accuses him of having prepared an attack aimed at crashing a plane on a building, as for the attacks of September 11, 2001.
According to Manhattan Federal Prosecutor Audrey Strauss, Cholo Abdi Abdullah, who was acting on the orders of the leadership of the Shebab affiliated with Al-Qaeda, “had trained to fly in the Philippines in order to hijack an airliner and crash it. on an American building ”.
“This chilling return to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001 is a powerful reminder that terrorist groups like the Shebab continue to want to kill American citizens and attack the United States,” the prosecutor added in a statement Wednesday.
Mr. Abdullah, who was transferred to the United States on Tuesday, was due to appear before a New York judge on Wednesday. He arrived in the Philippines in 2016, where he took flying lessons from 2017 to 2019, until he got his license, the statement said.
During his training, he learned about the safety of the devices and how to force the access door to the cockpit, according to the statement. He also inquired about “the tallest building in a large American city,” added the prosecutor’s office, without specifying which city or building he was targeting, or whether a date had been set for the attack.
During the 9/11 attacks, hijackers trained in American aviation schools took control of airliners, crushing two of them on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
In New York, Mr. Abdullah, 30, will face six terrorism-related charges, including conspiracy to assassinate American citizens, conspiracy to destroy a plane, and conspiracy to carry out cross-border attacks.
If convicted, his minimum sentence would be 20 years in prison and could go up to life.
The Somali Shebab, behind many bloody attacks, recently launched a series of attacks in reaction to Washington’s decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Among these attacks, the one perpetrated on January 15 against a Nairobi complex with hotel, restaurants and offices, which left 21 dead, including an American citizen, survivor of the World Trade Center attacks.
Driven from Mogadishu in 2011, the shebab still control vast rural areas from where they organize guerrilla actions and suicide attacks. It is estimated that they currently number between 5,000 and 9,000 fighters.