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Somali Accused in Alleged Plot to Blow Up US Shopping Mall - 2004-06-14


A Somali native living in America has been charged with plotting a terrorist attack in the United States.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says the American heartland was targeted for death and destruction by an al-Qaida cell, which allegedly included an immigrant from Somalia.

Mr. Ashcroft says 32-year-old Nuradin Abdi conspired with al-Qaida members to detonate a bomb at an unidentified shopping mall in the midwestern city of Columbus, Ohio.

Mr. Abdi is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and al-Qaida, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The attorney general says Mr. Abdi is also charged with fraud and misuse of documents by claiming he had been granted valid asylum status in the United States.

Mr. Ashcroft said he allegedly used those documents, which investigators say he obtained under false pretenses, to travel overseas to Ethiopia to receive terrorist training. "Abdi indicated in the application he intended to visit Germany and Saudi Arabia. But the indictment says his destination was Ogaden, Ethiopia to attend a military-style training camp for violent Jihad. Abdi allegedly sought training in guns, guerrilla warfare, and bombs," he said.

Mr. Abdi is charged with conspiring with admitted al-Qaida member Iyman Faris and other unidentified coconspirators to attack the shopping mall.

Faris is serving a 20 year prison sentence after pleading guilty last year to providing material support to al-Qaida.

Faris, who is originally from Kashmir, admitted plotting to sever the cables supporting the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and to derail trains in New York and Washington.

He received instructions from top al-Qaida leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for what investigators say might have been a second wave of attacks following those of September 11 2001.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is the alleged mastermind of the assaults on New York and Washington and is in U.S. custody at an undisclosed location.

Attorney General Ashcroft says there is no doubt al-Qaida is still trying to launch attacks against U.S. targets. "Current, credible intelligence indicates that al-Qaida wants to hit the United States, to hit the United States hard. We know our enemies will go to great lengths to lie in wait and to achieve the death and destruction they desire, if at all possible," he said.

Mr. Abdi has been in custody since last November on immigration-related charges.