Albanian who allegedly hoped to join terrorists is held in N.Y.
An Albanian man living in New York has been arrested as he prepared to travel to Pakistan to join a radical group plotting violence against American targets, prosecutors said Friday. The announcement in New York came hours after officials warned of a credible new threat against the country in conjunction with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The suspect, Agron Hasbajrami, was charged with providing material support to terrorists. He was expected to be arraigned Friday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, following the unsealing of an indictment that described him as "a danger to the community."
The 27-year-old was arrested Sept. 6 as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. In Turkey, he planned to meet up with others who he thought would help him travel to Pakistan to join militants battling U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to the 11-page indictment.
Hasbajrami had allegedly been arranging his plans with the help of a supposed militant -- one of several contacts -- from a Pakistani-based militant group with which he kept in touch. But the "militant" was working as a confidential source for the FBI.
Agents tipped off to Hasbajrami's plans intercepted him when he arrived at the airport with a one-way ticket in hand. At the time of his arrest, he was also carrying his Albanian passport, a tent, boots and cold-weather gear, authorities said, presumably in preparation for training and waging war in the mountainous areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
According to the indictment, agents who searched Hasbajrami's home in Brooklyn found a handwritten note that read: "Do not wait for the invasion, the time is martyrdom time." Among email messages exchanged with contacts in Pakistan was allegedly one in which Hasbajrami expressed his desire to "marry with the girls in paradise," or sacrifice his life in the name of jihad, which promises martyrs they will be rewarded with virgins in paradise.
Hasbajrami originally planned to travel to Pakistan via Iran and obtained an Iranian visa, but he re-routed himself at the last minute after deciding that this route was problematic. His Iranian visa subsequently expired, and in early September, he was approached by the FBI informant, who offered to help get Hasbajrami to Pakistan via Turkey, the indictment said.
According to the documents, Hasbajrami came to the United States in February 2008. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
The indictment comes as law enforcement officials investigate what they described Thursday night as a "credible" but uncorroborated threat against targets in Washington, D.C., or New York as the cities observe the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on Sunday.
ABC News was reporting Thursday that U.S. authorities were looking for at least three people who entered the country in August by air with the intent to launch a vehicle-borne attack. ABC News said that one of those people may be a U.S. citizen.
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: Police in New York step up checks of vehicles following warnings of a threat against U.S. targets in conjunction with Sunday's anniversary of the 2001 attacks. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images