United States v. El-Hanafi (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 30, 2010)

May 3, 2010

* United States v. El-Hanafi (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 30, 2010)

A new material support indictment involving al Qaeda. From the press release (the indictment is attached):

NEW YORK – U.S. citizens Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff were indicted today in the Southern District of New York for allegedly conspiring to provide material support, including computer advice and assistance to al Qaeda, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the FBI, and Raymond W. Kelly, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, announced today.

El-Hanafi and Hasanoff are expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge T. Rawles Jones, Jr., of the Eastern District of Virginia at 3:00 p.m. today. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Kimba M. Wood of the Southern District of New York, and the defendants are expected to appear in Manhattan, N.Y., federal court at a later date.

According to the indictment unsealed today:

In February 2008, El-Hanafi traveled to Yemen, where he met with two members of al Qaeda. While in Yemen, El-Hanafi swore an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda, received instructions from al Qaeda on operational security measures and received assignments to perform for al Qaeda.

Three months later, in May 2008, El-Hanafi met with another individual (CC-1) in Brooklyn to discuss CC-1 also joining al Qaeda. Hasanoff – who had previously received $50,000 from CC-1 – and El-Hanafi had additional discussions with CC-1 about joining al Qaeda, and El-Hanafi later accepted an oath of allegiance on behalf of al Qaeda from CC-1. During about the same time period, El-Hanafi purchased a subscription for a software program that enabled him to communicate securely with others over the internet.

In June 2008, El-Hanafi directed CC-1 to perform various tasks for al Qaeda. And at that time, Hasanoff instructed CC-1 not to use his U.S. passport when traveling because a U.S. passport with fewer immigration stamps would be more valuable to al Qaeda.

Additionally, in August 2008, Hasanoff traveled to New York City where he performed assignments for al Qaeda. The following year, in April 2009, El-Hanafi purchased seven Casio digital watches over the internet on behalf of al Qaeda and had them delivered to his residence in Brooklyn, N.Y.

El-Hanafi, 33, is a U.S. citizen who was born and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. Hasanoff, 34, is a dual citizen of the United States and Australia, who also resided in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged in the indictment, Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff conspired to modernize al Qaeda by providing computer systems expertise and other goods and services. El-Hanafi is also alleged to have traveled to Yemen to meet with al Qaeda members face-to-face. These two New Yorkers, who allegedly pledged allegiance to al Qaeda, will now be held to account for their actions. This case confirms our commitment to work with the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force to protect our citizens against the clear and present danger posed by terrorists and those who provide them material support.”

El-Hanafi, Wesam and Hasanoff, Sabirhan S2 Indictment.pdf