nationalsecuritylaw United States v. El-Hanafi and Hasanoff (S.D.N.Y.) (guilty pleas)

June 19, 2012

From DOJ’s press release (see also the attached Informations):

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff have pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to providing material support, including financial support, equipment and technical advice, to al-Qaeda associates in Yemen and elsewhere, and to conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda over the course of nearly three years. El-Hanafi pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Kimba M. Wood, and Hasanoff pleaded guilty before Judge Kimba Wood on June 4, 2012. They were transferred into U.S. custody following their arrests in the United Arab Emirates in 2010.

The guilty pleas were announced by Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI; and Raymond W. Kelly, Police Commissioner of the City of New York.

U.S. Attorney Bharara said, “The pleas of these two avowed supporters of al Qaeda is a chilling reminder of the threat of homegrown terrorists and the unwavering vigilance that must be exercised so they can be thwarted – as they were in this case. It is also a reminder of the commitment that we share with our law enforcement partners to identify, prosecute and punish those who would do harm to the United States and its citizens.”

Beginning in 2007, El-Hanafi and Hasanoff conspired with others to support and receive assignments from al-Qaeda. In November 2007, Hasanoff received approximately $50,000 from a co-conspirator (CC-1), with the understanding that at least a portion of the money would be used to support the terrorist organization. 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. Also while in Yemen, El-Hanafi instructed the members of al-Qaeda on how to communicate covertly over the Internet in a manner that would avoid law enforcement detection.

After El-Hanafi returned from Yemen, Hasanoff also swore allegiance to al-Qaeda. About three months later, in May 2008, El-Hanafi met with CC-1 in Brooklyn to discuss CC-1 also joining al-Qaeda, and Hasanoff and El-Hanafi subsequently had additional discussions with CC-1 about joining al-Qaeda. During the same approximate time period, El-Hanafi purchased a subscription for a software program that enabled him to communicate securely with others over the internet.

El-Hanafi and Hasanoff also helped finance the terror group by regularly sending money to al-Qaeda through international wire transfers and through couriers. El-Hanafi and Hasanoff also were interested in fighting with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations abroad, and they discussed traveling to engage in jihad, although they never succeeded in participating in armed conflict.

In June 2008, El-Hanafi directed CC-1 to perform various tasks for al-Qaeda. 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. El-Hanafi and Hasanoff continued discussions about seeking out more contacts with al-Qaeda through 2009.

El-Hanafi, 37, is a U.S. citizen who was born and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. Hasanoff, 36, is a dual citizen of the United States and Australia, who also resided in Brooklyn.

El-Hanafi and Hasanoff each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Hasanoff is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wood on July 23, 2012. El-Hanafi is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wood on October 22, 2012.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s New York-based Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) – which principally consists of special agents of the FBI and detectives of the New York City Police Department. He also thanked the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs, the Department of State, the Kansas City-based JTTF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri for their extraordinary assistance in this matter.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brendan R. McGuire, John P. Cronan, Glen Kopp, Aimee Hector and Michael Lockard and are in charge of the prosecution.

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El-Hanafi Information S7.pdf

Hasanoff, Sabirhan S6 Information.pdf


United States v. El-Hanafi (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 14, 2010) (superseding indictment)

September 14, 2010

* United States v. El-Hanafi (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 14, 2010) (superseding indictment)

New charges today in the prosecution of Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff, two U.S. citizens who allegedly became involved with al Qaeda over the past two years. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda in the form of “computer advice and assistance, services, currency, and physical assets” (in violation of 18 USC 2339B); actually providing and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda in the form of “currency and physical assets…[and] financial support, equipment, and technical advice”; conspiracy to provide services to al Qaeda in the form of “money, equipment, and technological advice” (in violation of 50 USC 1705 – the International Emergency Economic Powers Act); and actually providing such services to al Qaeda. Details from the press release follow below, and the superseding indictment is attached:

NEW YORK – Additional terrorism charges were filed today in a superseding indictment against U.S. citizens Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff for allegedly providing material support, including money and computer assistance, to al-Qaeda, announced Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The original indictment, which was unsealed on April 30, 2010, charged El-Hanafi and Hasanoff with conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda. The superseding indictment contains three additional charges, including providing material support to al-Qaeda and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in connection with their alleged support of al Qaeda.

According to the superseding indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, 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, N.Y., 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. 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.

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

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood and the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on the superseding indictment on Sept. 16, 2010, at 10:30 A.M. EDT.

El-Hanafi and Hasanoff S4 Indictment.pdf


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