Washington: A major Al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Spin Ghul has been arrested, six months after he was taken into American custody and will be tried in a New York court, the US Justice Department has said Wednesday.
Charged on a six-count indictment, Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, also known as "Spin Ghul," was arrested in Italy and extradited to the United States in October 2012. His case was placed before a Brooklyn court after that.
The case is scheduled for a public status conference before US District Judge Edward R.Korman in New York today, federal authorities said.
Harun was born in Saudi Arabia but claims citizenship in Niger.
"He was a prototype al-Qaeda operative, trained by al-Qaeda in terrorist tradecraft, deployed to fight American servicemen, and dispatched to commit terrorist attacks throughout the world," said the US Attorney Loretta E Lynch.
According to the Justice Department on July 5, 2012 a Naples Court of Appeals found him extraditable to face the charges in the indictment pending against him in US federal court, under the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and Italy.
If convicted of all the charges in the indictment, Harun faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
He is charged with crimes related to his alleged terrorist activities on behalf of al-Qaeda beginning in 2001.
According to the indictment and other court documents, Harun, beginning in 2001, traveled from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan with the intent to fight violent jihad.
He arrived in Afghanistan shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He then joined al-Qaeda, received military-type training at al-Qaeda training camps, and ultimately fought against United States and Coalition forces in Afghanistan with an al-Qaeda fighting group based in Pakistan.
According to the indictment, Harun allegedly attempted to kill US military personnel in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003.
In 2003, Harun received further al-Qaeda training in Pakistan and traveled to Africa with the intent to conduct attacks on US diplomatic facilities in Nigeria.
While in Nigeria, Harun allegedly conspired with others to bomb such facilities.
According to the indictment and other documents, after the arrest of a co-conspirator, the he traveled to Libya, en route to Europe, but was apprehended in early 2005.
The defendant then remained in Libyan custody until June 2011, when he was released by the Libyan government.
He was then arrested by Italian authorities after assaulting officers on board a refugee ship bound for Italy.
The Obama Administration`s decision to try him in a civilian court has been criticized by Republicans.
"I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the administration has once again decided to forgo an extensive intelligence interrogation and instead bring an enemy combatant immediately into the federal court system," said Senator Saxby Chambliss, Vice Chairman of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, however supported the decision of the Obama Administration.
"I am pleased to see that the Administration continues to use one our most effective tools to bring terrorists to justice - the federal court system," he said.
"While some claim we should shy away from using a court system that has been a model for the world for more than 200 years, I believe - and the Administration has demonstrated that it believes - that we should embrace it. We should not fear our Constitution - terrorists should," Smith said.
Smith said the Obama Administration has effectively utilized the federal court system as a powerful tool in trying and prosecuting suspected terrorist.
"For example, last year, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, also known as the "Underwear Bomber" received a life sentence in a federal courtroom. The Blind Sheikh, Afia Siddiqui, and many others have received similar sentences," he argued.
"In fact, Federal courts have a long proven track record of success: Over 400 defendants charged with crimes related to international terrorism have been successfully convicted in the United States since 9/11," Smith said.