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Wednesday
Mar202013

Meet the 'Prototype' Al Qaeda Operative: 'Spin Ghul'

Juergen Stein/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A civilian court in New York will try a man charged with such a litany of violent, international terrorist crimes that prosecutors said he's exactly what comes to mind when they think "al Qaeda."

"The defendant was a prototype al Qaeda operative, trained by al Qaeda in terrorist tradecraft, deployed to fight American servicemen, and dispatched to commit terrorist attacks throughout the world," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "Whether they try to attack our servicemen on the battlefield, or scheme to kill our diplomats and citizens in embassies abroad, terrorists will find no refuge."

Lynch made the comment in a Department of Justice (DOJ) release Wednesday, which announced the unsealing of a sprawling indictment against Saudi man Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, also known as "Spin Ghul."

Though Harun was arrested in July 2011 by Italian authorities and extradited to the U.S. last October, his case was kept under wraps until Wednesday at the request of prosecutors because he was "in a position to provide the government with information relevant to the national security of the United States" and was already talking, according to a court document obtained by ABC News.

"Should the defendant continue to provide information to the government, it is possible that such information would permit the government to learn of terrorist plots, identify terrorist operatives, and potentially seek criminal process for those operatives or related evidence," the document says.

In the DOJ release, prosecutors said Harun, now 43, began his career in terrorism by traveling from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan in 2001, arriving shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, "with the intent to fight violent jihad." There he allegedly joined al Qaeda, received "military-type" training and participated in fighting against U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The DOJ said that in 2003 Harun received additional training in Pakistan before being sent to Africa where prosecutors say he intended to "conduct attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Nigeria" using bombs.

Later, Harun traveled to Libya, where he was apprehended in 2005. He remained detained there until 2011, when the Libyan government released him.

Harun apparently planned to make his way into Italy, but was once again arrested by Italian authorities on a refugee ship for allegedly assaulting an officer on board, the DOJ said. Harun waived his Miranda rights and was questioned by Americans while in Italian custody before being extradited, according to the court document.

If convicted of all terrorism-related charges, Harun could face life in prison.

"Vowing allegiance to al-Qaeda and training to commit violent jihad are not the worst of Harun's alleged crimes. The allegations include actually attacking U.S troops and plotting to use explosives to kill U.S. diplomats," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge in New York George Venizelos. "As alleged, Harun not only intended to, but did commit acts of terrorism against Americans. Now he is subject to the American justice system."

The unsealing of Harun's indictment Wednesday follows the sudden appearance of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's son-in-law in a New York court earlier this month, after his own dramatic, international arrest.

At the time, top Republican lawmakers criticized the Obama administration's decision to try that man, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, in a civilian court rather than in a military tribunal at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio