NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17- A Kenyan pilot linked to Al Shabaab was indicted in the US Wednesday, for allegedly planning to launch a 9/11-like attack.
Cholo Abdi Abdullah, 30, is charged with six counts of terrorism-related offenses, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Abdullah, who was arrested in the Philippines in July 2019, was brought to the United States on Tuesday and was to be presented before a magistrate in Manhattan on Wednesday, the department said.
Acting Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said Abdullah obtained pilot training in the Philippines as part of an Al-Shabaab plot “in preparation for seeking to hijack a commercial aircraft and crash it into a building in the United States.”
“This chilling callback to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, is a stark reminder that terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab remain committed to killing US citizens and attacking the United States,” Strauss said.
“Abdullah’s plot was detected before he could achieve his deadly aspirations, and now he faces federal terrorism charges in a US court,” she added.
According to the indictment, Abdullah attended flight school in the Philippines between 2017 and 2019 and eventually obtained his pilot’s license.
While undergoing flight training, he allegedly conducted research into methods to hijack a commercial airliner and sought information on how to obtain a US visa.
Abdullah is charged with conspiring to murder US nationals, conspiring to commit aircraft piracy and other offenses. He could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The 9/11 terror attack is documented as the deadliest in human history.
It occurred on September 11, 2001 when a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Wahhabi terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda was launched.
During the attack, four passenger airlines that departed from airports in northeastern US bound for California were hijacked by 19 terrorists.
Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the north and south towers of the 110-storey World Trade Centre that collapsed within 42 minutes killing thousands.
The third plane crashed into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense in Virginia leading to the partial collapse of the building’s west side killing soldiers and all on board.
The fourth aircraft rashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers engaged the attackers. All on board died.