A New York man accused of helping al Qaeda with computer systems and cash was denied bail on Monday in a New York court.
Sabirhan Hasanoff, 34, a dual U.S. and Australian citizen who owns a home in Brooklyn, New York, was arrested on April 30 and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, according to a U.S. District Court indictment.
Another New York man, Wesam El-Hanafi, was arrested and charged in the same indictment, and is currently detained pending an appearance in Manhattan federal court later this week. Both men are accused of pledging allegiance to al Qaeda and using their computer expertise to aid the group.
After hearing from prosecutors and Hasanoff’s attorney Anthony Ricco, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis placed Hasanoff in detention without bail, deeming his “level of sophistication” too big a risk.
Hasanoff pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Al Qaeda was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States that included strikes on the World Trade Centre in New York with hijacked airliners that killed almost 3,000 people. Another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon in Washington and a fourth was brought down in a Pennsylvania field.
Ricco said his client, an accountant, had been a group chief financial officer for a Dubai-based company for 3-1/2 years and that his extensive travel was strictly business.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan argued Hasanoff “turned to al Qaeda in this very city where he lived and embraced its extremist ideology and radical goals.”
Prosecutors said they had a witness who would testify against Hasanoff if the case goes to trial.
Hasanoff’s “advanced computer knowledge,” as well as his two passports, made him a prime asset to the radical network, Cronan said.
Among Cronan’s accusations were that Hasanoff held coded online chats with El-Hanafi discussing fighting overseas, bought e-mail encryption software and made international wire transfers to al Qaeda militants.
He visited Yemen, Syria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey among other places, Cronan said.
(Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman)