Man Accused of Forming Mini-Terror Cell Denied Bail

Targeting Terrorism
A U.S. citizen charged with conspiring to provide support to al-Qaeda and creating his “own mini-terror cell” was ordered held without bail after he pleaded not guilty in federal court in New York.

Wesam El-Hanafi, 35, poses a danger to the community and is a flight risk, U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman in Manhattan said today at his arraignment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan said El-Hanafi, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, was “turned on” to al-Qaeda while living in the U.S. and traveled to Yemen in February 2008 to meet the network’s senior leaders.

“Mr. El-Hanafi joined the group and he provided very real support to them,” Cronan said. “This is someone who knowingly joined a group whose purpose is to attack America.”

El-Hanafi and co-defendant Sabirhan Hasanoff, 34, are charged with agreeing to provide support to a known terror group, the U.S. said in an indictment. If convicted, both men face as long as 15 years in prison.

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