A U.S. court has sealed an indictment against Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi.
The United States is seeking the extradition of a Nigerian, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapha,” from Nigeria after an indictment was sealed Tuesday in a Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York charging him “with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”), and using high-powered firearms in furtherance of that crime.
A release from the information section of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria on Wednesday said “the United States is currently seeking the extradition of the defendant, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, also known as “Abdullah” and “Ayatollah Mustapha,” from Nigeria.
At the request of the United States, the Nigerian government commenced extradition proceedings against the defendant in July 2013”.
According to the release, the charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division; and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
United States Attorney Lynch acknowledged the continued cooperation and assistance of the government of Nigeria in terrorism matters affecting both nations.
According to court documents, between January 2010 and August 2011, the defendant travelled twice from Nigeria to Yemen to meet and train with leaders of AQAP, the Yemen-based branch of al-Qaeda.
Mr. Babafemi allegedly assisted in AQAP’s English-language media operations, which include the publication of the magazine “Inspire.”
At the direction of the now-deceased senior AQAP commander, Anwar al-Aulaqi, Mr. Babafemi was provided by AQAP leadership with the equivalent of almost $9,000 in cash to recruit other English-speakers from Nigeria to join that group. While in Yemen, Mr. Babafemi was also said to have received weapons training from AQAP.
The release however added that “the charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty”.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Zainab Ahmad and Hilary Jager, with assistance from Trial Attorney William M. Narus of the Justice Department’s Counter terrorism Section and Trial Attorney Timothy Hammer of the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.