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New Charges Filed in Terror Plot Against New York Subways

Posted: July 9, 2010

A former Florida student designated as one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists has been charged with organizing a terrorist attack against the New York City subway system.


On July 7, 2010, Adnan El Shukrijumah, 34, was charged in a superseding indictment returned in a New York federal court with providing material support to Al Qaeda, conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and committing an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, among other charges.  El Shukrijumah, who remains at large, is a U.S. permanent resident born in Saudi Arabia and trained as a pilot.  He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.


The indictment alleged that El Shukrijumah and two other leaders of Al Qaeda's "external operations" program, Saleh al-Somali and Rashid Rauf, recruited and directed three New Yorkers to conduct a terrorist attack in the U.S.  El Shukrijumah's recruits Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin received "military-style" training from Al Qaeda in Pakistan in late 2008 and early 2009 and returned to the U.S. to detonate homemade explosives on New York City subway lines during the days following the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.


El Shukrijumah's ties to New York date back to the early 1990s when his father worked at Al Farouq Mosque, a Brooklyn-based mosque attended by several suspects of the first World Trade Center bombing.  While in New York, El Shukrijumah's father also reportedly served as a translator for Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian cleric and alleged leader of the terrorist group Gama'a al-Islamiyya who plotted to bomb five major landmarks in New York in 1993.


Several detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 terror attacks, have identified El Shukrijumah as "one of the most likely individuals to be used by Al Qaeda for operations in the United States."  El Shukrijumah, who is also known as Jafar al-Tayyar ("Jafar the Pilot") and has completed advanced training at Al Qaeda camps, has since been implicated in several other terror cases in the U.S.  Four men on trial for conspiring to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines at JFK International Airport in 2007, for example, allegedly tried to secure financial and operational support from El Shukrijumah.


El Shukrijumah, who moved to Florida with his family in 1995 and studied computer science at Broward Community College, has also been linked to several convicted terrorists from Florida.  In 2001, for example, Imran Mandhai and Shueyb Mossa Jokhan, two men from south Florida who have since been sentenced to five and 11 years in prison, respectively, for plotting to bomb Mount Rushmore and several targets in southern Florida, tried to recruit El Shukrijumah to join their plot.  


El Shukrijumah has also been linked to Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen from Florida serving a 17-year prison sentence for providing material support to terrorists and other terror-related charges.  Padilla and El Shukrijumah allegedly received explosives training together from Al Qaeda and were later assigned to work as partners to carry out an attack in the U.S.  The men, however, reportedly did not get along and their plans were abandoned.

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