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Feds: Man Trained as Pilot, Planned 9/11-Style Attack

Kenyan man researched hijacking methods
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2020 1:27 PM CST

(Newser) – A Kenyan man has been indicted in a case that "eerily draws parallels" to the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Justice says. Cholo Abdi Abdullah "obtained pilot training in the Philippines in preparation for seeking to hijack a commercial aircraft and crash it into a building in the United States," according to a newly unsealed federal indictment. Abdullah was arrested last year in the Philippines, where he had spent years training as a pilot and completed the necessary tests for a pilot's license, the New York Times reports. Prosecutors say the 30-year-old was taking orders from a commander in al-Shabab, a group that has sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda.

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Abdullah allegedly researched aircraft security issues including methods of hijacking a plane, information on the tallest building in an unnamed major US city, and how to obtain a US visa. After his July 2019 arrest, Philippine authorities said Abdullah had pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012. They said firearms and explosives were found at his residence. Abdullah was transported from the Philippines to the US Tuesday and entered a not guilty plea in a federal court in Manhattan Wednesday, NBC New York reports. He is being held without bail and faces a potential sentence of 20 years to life. (Read more terrorism stories.)

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