A Brooklyn resident pleaded guilty Monday to providing money and computer assistance to the al-Qaida terrorist network.
Sabirhan Hasanoff was charged in an indictment unsealed in April 2010 along with Wesam El-Hanafi with conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaida. A superseding indictment accused the two men on three additional counts, including providing material support to al-Qaida, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in connection with their support to the terrorist group.
Hasanoff, a successful accountant who held a senior position at PricewaterhouseCoopers, is a dual citizen of the United States and Australia. He was arrested in 2010 in Dubai and brought to the United States to face charges of providing material and technical assistance to al-Qaida.
Prosecutors allege that in November 2007 Hasanoff received around $50,000 from a confidential co-conspirator to move money and perform other tasks for al-Qaida. Both Hasanoff and El-Hanafi subsequently had a discussion with the co-conspirator about joining al-Qaida. Hassanoff also instructed the co-conspirator to avoid using his U.S. passport for traveling because a "passport with fewer immigration stamps would be more valuable to al Qaeda." Prosecutors claim Hasanoff is widely traveled and has visited several countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
El-Hanafi, a U.S. citizen and computer engineer living in Brooklyn, traveled to Yemen in February 2008, where he met with two al-Qaida members "who instructed him on operational security measures and directed him to perform tasks for al Qaeda." While in Yemen, El-Hanafi swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida. He also subscribed to a software program to enable him communicate securely with others on the Internet. Both Hasanoff and El-Hanafi used code words to communicate their desire to fight jihad in Internet chat rooms and connect with other al-Qaida members. The term "safari" was used as a codename for "jihad" and saying a friend was "hospitalized" implied he was "in prison." El-Hanafi also made an online purchase of seven Casio digital watches for al-Qaida.
Hasanoff faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced July 23. El-Hanafi has pleaded not guilty in the case.