Washington: A 40-year-old Yemeni man, with ties to senior al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, has pleaded guilty before a federal US court to four terrorism charges, including conspiring to murder American nationals abroad.
Saddiq al-Abbadi, who was arrested with an alleged co-conspirator in Saudi Arabia, faces a maximum life sentence in a US prison at his sentencing.
"The defendant was a high-level al Qaeda operative with ties to the terrorist group's senior leadership in both Pakistan and Yemen," said Acting US Attorney Kelly Currie.
"He fought in battles against US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, tried to kill US troops in Afghanistan by luring them to a compound rigged with explosives, and helped an American citizen gain entry to al Qaeda," he said yesterday.
According to court papers, Abbadi traveled from his home country Yemen to Iraq where, from approximately late 2005 through early 2007, he fought alongside al Qaeda affiliated battalions against US troops stationed in Iraq.
In early 2008, Abbadi traveled to Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to fight for al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, prosecutors said.
While in FATA, Abbadi -? who had longstanding ties to senior members of al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) -? engaged directly with the senior al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, including Sheikh Saeed al-Masri, the then-third ranking member, it said.
During late spring and summer of 2008, Abbadi crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan for the purpose of fighting and killing members of the US military stationed in Afghanistan.
In June 2008, he planned an operation designed to lure US forces to a compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan, that was rigged with explosives set to detonate upon their entry.
When US forces arrived at the compound, they found rocket- propelled grenades and artillery rounds littered around.
One soldier observed wires running from the exterior gate to the inside of the compound and recognised the trap. The military evacuated and subsequently leveled the compound.
"With today's guilty plea, Al-Abbadi admitted to directly supporting the mission of a designated terrorist organization through planning an operation designed to kill US forces and for engaging in recruitment efforts on behalf of al Qaeda," said Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G McCabe of the FBI's Washington, DC , Field Office.
In addition to fighting against the US military, Abbadi used his connections with al Qaeda's leadership to help US citizen Bryant Neal Vinas gain entry into al Qaeda.
Vinas had traveled to Pakistan from Long Island, New York, hoping to joine al Qaeda and fight against the US forces in Afghanistan.
As a result of Abbadi's assistance, Vinas was allowed to join al Qaeda.