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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Additional Charges Against Two U.S. Citizens Alleged to Have Provided Material Support to al Qaeda

New York, NY–(ENEWSPF)– PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that additional terrorism charges were filed against U.S. citizens WESAM EL-HANAFI and SABIRHAN HASANOFF in a Superseding Indictment for allegedly providing material support, including money and computer assistance, to al Qaeda. 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 September 16, 2010, at 10:30 a.m.

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 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. 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, New York.

EL-HANAFI, 33, is a U.S. citizen who was born and lived in Brooklyn, New York. HASANOFF, 34, is a dual citizen of the United States and Australia, who also resided in Brooklyn, New York.

If convicted on all counts, EL-HANAFI and HASANOFF each face a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force—which principally consists of agents and detectives of the FBI and the New York City Police Department. Mr. BHARARA thanked the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs, and the Department of State for their 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, and AIMEE HECTOR are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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