They wanted to help “modernize” al-Qaeda — ironic, considering al-Qaeda’s thoroughly un-modern vision for society. “2 N.Y. men charged with aiding al-Qaida,” from the Associated Press, April 30:
NEW YORK – Two U.S. citizens were charged Friday with conspiring to provide computer assistance, watches and other support to help “modernize” al-Qaida.
A vaguely worded indictment unsealed Friday in federal court in Manhattan accused Wesam El-Hanafi of traveling to Yemen to meet with unnamed al-Qaida members in February 2008.
The terrorists “instructed him on operational security measures and directed him to perform tasks for al-Qaida,” the indictment says. While there, he also “took an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida,” it adds.
In February 2008, El-Hanafi bought computer software that allowed him to secretly communicate over the Internet, federal prosecutors allege. That summer, he met with an unnamed co-conspirator and the second defendant, Sabirhan Hasanoff, in Brooklyn to discuss joining al-Qaida, according to the indictment.
The confidential co-conspirator paid $50,000 to Hasanoff, who later traveled to New York City and performed unspecified “tasks for al-Qaida,” the court papers say. The papers say that the conspiracy included El-Hanafi purchasing seven Casio digital watches, but doesn’t say why.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the men had schemed “to modernize al-Qaida by providing computer systems expertise and other goods and services.” His office declined further comment.
El-Hanafi, 33, and Hasanoff, 34, were to make an initial court appearance in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Friday afternoon.