U.S. v. El-Hanafi and Hasanoff, 10-cr-162, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). Two men who formerly lived in Brooklyn, New York, were charged with supporting al-Qaeda, including providing computer advice and currency.
The indictment against Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff, handed up by a federal grand jury in Manhattan, was unsealed today. "These two New Yorkers, who allegedly pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, will now be held to account for their actions," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York said in a statement.
El-Hanafi, 33, and Hasanoff, 34, "would and did agree to provide al-Qaeda with, among other things, computer advice and assistance, services and currency, knowing that al-Qaeda had engaged and was engaging in terrorist activity," according to the indictment. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Victor Knapp, a lawyer for El-Hanafi, said in a phone interview that both men appeared in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia today and will probably be brought to New York to appear in court there next week. New Yorkers; El-Hanafi is a U.S. citizen who was born in Brooklyn, according to the statement. Hasanoff is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. El-Hanafi later accepted an oath of allegiance on behalf of al-Qaeda from a co-conspirator who isn't named in the indictment and from whom Hasanoff had previously received $50,000, according to the indictment.
El-Hanafi also "purchased a subscription for a software program that enabled him to communicate securely with others over the Internet (Mujahideen Secrets 2)," according to the indictment.
Software designed specifically to aid Muslim terrorists hide their identities and location while online has been released in an updated version, according to security analyst Paul Henry of Secure Computing. He says the program is named Mujahideen Secrets 2, and claims it is "the first Islamic program for secure communications through networks with the highest technical level of encoding." The software wass available free at the password-protected Ekhlaas.org website, a destination frequently carrying al-Qaida messages, and is an updated version of the Mujahideen Secrets program that was released in early 2007 by the Global Islamic Media Front, an al-Qaida-linked Internet organization.
The Ekhlaas.org website that was hosted in Tampa Fl was shut down by Sarasota Private Investigator Bill Warner. "Mujahideen Secrets 2 is designed to allow mujahedeen encrypted communication online using elaborate algorithms and symmetrical and asymmetrical encryption keys," said Eli Alshech, director of the Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project for the Middle East Media Research Institute, a think tank based in Washington. The program, Alshech says, "shows their improved level of sophistication."
'Performed Tasks'; In April 2009, El-Hanafi bought seven Casio digital watches (for time bombs) over the Internet on behalf of al-Qaeda and had them delivered to his Brooklyn residence, according to the indictment and Bharara's statement.
United States intelligence officials have identified the Casio F91W as a watch that terrorists use when constructing time bombs. This association was highlighted in the Denbeaux study, and may have been used in some cases at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. An article published in the Washington Post in 1996 reported that Abdul Hakim Murad, Wali Khan Amin Shah, and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, all Al-Qaeda agents, had developed techniques to use commonly available Casio digital watches to detonate time bombs.
In August 2008, Hasanoff traveled to New York City, where he "performed tasks for al-Qaeda," according to the indictment. Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, took credit for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, more from this source............
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