Vietnamese-American Minh Quang Pham is charged with providing aid to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and receiving training from the terrorist group in an indictment unsealed in New York Friday. Pham is also being charged for helping al-Qaida's online propaganda efforts, which remain one of the group's most effective means of motivating attacks in the West.
According to the indictment, Pham traveled from the United Kingdom to Yemen around December 2010, and was involved in suspected aid to al-Qaida until July 2011. The court document notes how Pham acquired a Kalashnikov rifle and training from al-Qaida, met with another American citizen to create terrorist propaganda, and pledged his allegiance to the group.
From the indictment, Pham appears to have been actively participating with AQAP just months before the United States killed senior American al-Qaida propagandists Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. The drone strike effectively halted AQAP's reach in the English-speaking world, although the group released two additional issues of the Inspire magazine produced by al-Awlaki and Khan.
In July 2011, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared AQAP the greatest terrorist threat to the United States, eclipsing even al-Qaida's core in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The organization since has greatly expanded its territory in Yemen, a failed state facing numerous threats from breakaway rebel factions.