U.S. Man Pleads Guilty to Providing Support to al-Qaeda

Wesam El-Hanafi, one of two men accused in 2010 of providing support including money, computer software and digital watches to al-Qaeda, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court.

El-Hanafi, 37, today admitted to two criminal counts charging him with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to provide material support.

Prosecutors claimed that El-Hanafi, a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn, New York, traveled to Yemen in February 2008, where he met with two members of al-Qaeda and swore an oath of allegiance to the terrorist group. He received assignments and advised al-Qaeda members on how to communicate secretly over the Internet.

“In July of 2009 I participated in a conversation with others in which we discussed seeking out additional contacts within al-Qaeda,” El-Hanafi said today at the plea hearing.

The government claimed that El-Hanafi recruited Sabirhan Hasanoff, a Brooklyn man who holds joint U.S. and Australian citizenship, into a “mini-terror cell.” Both men helped send money to al-Qaeda, through couriers and wire transfers, the government said. El-Hanafi and Hasanoff were both arrested in the United Arab Emirates in 2010, according to the government.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said she will sentence El-Hanafi Oct. 22. He faces as many as 20 years in prison.

Hasanoff pleaded guilty June 4. He’ll be sentenced July 23.

The case is U.S. v. El-Hanafi, 10-cr-00162, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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