NEW YORK - A U.S. citizen who authorities say traveled from Canada to Pakistan to train with al-Qaeda in order to carry out jihad has been arrested and charged with conspiring to kill American soldiers, according to court papers unsealed Thursday.
Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh said nothing and entered no plea during a brief court appearance Thursday afternoon before a federal judge in Brooklyn. He was ordered held without bail. His attorney did not comment.
"Today's arrest demonstrates that there is no escape from the long reach of our law for American citizens who seek to do harm to our country on behalf of violent terrorists," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
Al Farekh, who was born in Texas, and two co-conspirators were students at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, in 2007 when authorities say they started watching al-Qaeda propaganda and hatching a plan to become martyrs abroad, an FBI agent wrote in a January complaint.
Al Farekh and the two others flew to Karachi, Pakistan, on round-trip tickets in March 2007 after selling their belongings, disconnecting their phones and buying mountain boots that authorities say are commonly worn by al-Qaeda fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the complaint says.
One of Al Farekh's co-conspirators, Canadian citizen Ferid Imam, trained three men to use AK-47s and other weapons at an al-Qaeda training camp in 2008, the complaint says. The three - Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay, and Adis Medunjanin - were later convicted of plotting to bomb New York City's subway system and are cooperating with federal authorities. Imam, who went by the name "Yousef," has been indicted on separate terrorism charges.