Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that WESAM EL-HANAFI and SABIRHAN HASANOFF pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to providing material support—including financial support, equipment, and technical advice—to al Qaeda associates in Yemen and elsewhere, and to conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda. EL-HANAFI pled guilty today before United States District Judge Kimba M. Wood, and HASANOFF pled guilty before Judge Wood on June 4, 2012. They were transferred into United States custody following their arrests in the United Arab Emirates in 2010.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “The pleas of these two avowed supporters of al Qaeda is a chilling reminder of the threat of homegrown terrorists and the unwavering vigilance that must be exercised so they can be thwarted—as they were in this case. It is also a reminder of the commitment that we share with our law enforcement partners to identify, prosecute, and punish those who would do harm to the United States and its citizens.”

Beginning in 2007, EL-HANAFI and HASANOFF conspired with others to support and receive assignments from al Qaeda. In November 2007, HASANOFF received approximately $50,000 from a co-conspirator (“CC-1”), with the understanding that at least a portion of the money would be used to support the terrorist organization. In February 2008, EL-HANAFI traveled to Yemen, where he met with two members of al Qaeda. While in Yemen, EL-HANAFI swore an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda, received instructions from al Qaeda on operational security measures, and received assignments to perform for al Qaeda. Also while in Yemen, EL-HANAFI instructed the members of al Qaeda on how to communicate covertly over the Internet in a manner that would avoid law enforcement detection.


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