Yemen man pleads guilty to al-Qaeda scheme to kill U.S. military

A courtroom sketch shows Saddiq al-Abbadi (R) as he pleads guilty during a hearing in Brooklyn federal court in New York May 26, 2015. (Reuters)

A Yemeni man who prosecutors said was a member of al-Qaeda and engaged in attacks against U.S. military forces stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiring to kill Americans overseas.

Saddiq al-Abbadi, 40, pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, to four counts including conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals abroad and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The plea came after prosecutors in January unveiled charges against al-Abbadi and another Yemeni man, Ali Alvi al-Hamidi. Both men had been arrested in Saudi Arabia and subsequently expelled.

Al-Abbadi faces up to life in prison. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis scheduled sentencing for September 25.

Prosecutors have said that al-Abbadi fought against U.S. military forces in Iraq between 2003 and 2007, before traveling with Al-Hamidi to Pakistan in 2008 to train and fight with al-Qaeda.

In mid-2008, al-Abbadi and al-Hamidi traveled from Pakistan to separate parts of Afghanistan to conduct attacks against the U.S. military, prosecutors said.

Al-Abbadi led at least two separate attacks against U.S. forces in Pakistan’s Paktya province, including one in May 2008 in which a U.S. Army Ranger died and several others were wounded, prosecutors said.

The pair also helped Bryant Neal Vinas, a Long Island man, join the Islamic militant group, prosecutors said in court documents. Vinas pleaded guilty in 2009 to helping al Qaeda plan an attack on the Long Island Rail Road.

Al-Abbadi had been a longtime member of al Qaeda, prosecutors said, and engaged directly with its senior leadership, including Abu Saeed al-Masri, its former third-ranking member who was killed in 2008.

Al-Abbadi was previously convicted in Saudi Arabia for plotting an al Qaeda attack there, and served 5-1/2 years of a 12-year prison sentence, according to court records.

Charges remain pending against al-Hamidi, 30, who pleaded not guilty in February to five counts including conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals abroad and providing and attempting to provide of material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44