Federal authorities are charging a Kenyan man for planning a terror attack that would be similar to the 9/11 attack. Cholo Abdi Abdullah, the 30-year-old Kenyan, allegedly wanted to hijack a commercial airplane and crash it into a building in the United States. The attack would have been on the scale of the 9/11 attacks that led to the death of thousands.
Abdullah reportedly has ties with al-Shabab, a radical terrorist organization that also has ties with al-Qaeda, and he was planning the attack on behalf of the group. He has spent a year in detention after he was arrested in the Philippines in 2019, but only recently got indicted on Tuesday. He is being held, without an option for bail, at the Manhattan federal courthouse.
The Kenyan has pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to reports. The prosecutors announced on Tuesday, that Abdullah received flight training in the Philippines where he was arrested last year. To further cement his guilt, the prosecutors stated that Abdullah had researched how to open the cockpit of a plane and how to hijack a commercial airline. He was also planning to get a US visa, prosecutors said.
“This case involves an evil plot to kill thousands of Americans by hijacking a commercial airplane and crashing it into a building filled with people,” John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security stated. “Abdullah’s plot is a big reminder that radical Islamic terrorist groups still pose a huge threat to the safety of our people.”
The acting attorney general in Manhattan, Audrey Strauss, described the plot as one that brings back memories of the September 11 attacks. According to prosecutors, Abdullah has been planning the attack since 2016, bidding his time by learning how to fly a plane. The prosecutors stated that Abdullah was getting his instructions from an al-Shabab commander. The commander, according to reports, also planned and executed an attack on a Nairobi hotel in 2019.
In the hotel attack, 21 people died, including a US citizen. Al-Shabab has planned and executed similar other attacks that have led to the death of thousands of civilians. The group, which is based in Somalia, has been named a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department.