Kenyan charged with plotting 9/11-style attack in the US

US federal authorities charge 30-year-old with trying to stage 9/11-style attack on behalf of Al-Shabaab.

Elad Benari ,

Jihadists (illustration)
Jihadists (illustration)

US federal authorities on Wednesday unsealed an indictment charging a Kenyan man with trying to stage a 9/11-style attack on the United States on behalf of the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization, The Associated Press reports.

Cholo Abdi Abdullah, 30, who was arrested in the Philippines in 2019, was transferred to US custody Tuesday on charges he conspired to hijack an aircraft and slam it into a building.

He pleaded not guilty to terrorism-related charges during a brief court appearance Wednesday and was ordered held without bond. He faces a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison if convicted, according to AP.

Prosecutors said Abdullah got flight training in the Philippines between 2017 and 2019 and obtained a pilot’s license in preparation for an attack. During that time, authorities said in a news release, Abdullah researched “the means and methods to hijack a commercial airliner,“ including how to breach a cockpit door and “information about the tallest building in a major US city.”

Abdullah, prosecutors said, started planning the attack in 2016 under the direction of an Al-Shabaab commander who was also involved in planning a deadly attack in 2019 on a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

The US designated Al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization in 2008. The group is an Al-Qaeda affiliate that has fought to establish an Islamic state in Somalia based on Shariah law.

In 2013, Al-Shabaab claimed an attack on a mall in Nairobi in which 67 people were killed.

It also carried out a 2015 hotel attack that killed at least 15 people in Mogadishu, Somalia.