COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Somali immigrant the government says plotted to blow up an Ohio shopping mall pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
Abdi's guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley came a week before the expected Aug. 6 start of his trial.
The Justice Department accused Abdi of suggesting the plan to attack a Columbus shopping mall during an August 2002 meeting at a coffee shop with now-convicted terrorist Iyman Faris and a third suspect, Christopher Paul.
Faris is serving 20 years in a maximum-security federal prison in Florence, Colo., for his role in an Al Qaeda plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris scouted the bridge and told Al Qaeda its plans wouldn't work, court papers have said.
Federal agents arrested Abdi the morning of Nov. 28, 2003, the day after Thanksgiving, out of fear the attack would be carried out on the heavy shopping day. He was arrested at 6 a.m. while leaving his Columbus home for morning prayers.
Prosecutors say Abdi gave stolen credit card numbers to a man accused of buying gear for Al Qaeda, and lied on immigration documents to visit a jihadist training camp.
Abdi's attorneys said he was merely upset at the war in Afghanistan and reports of civilians killed in bombings by the U.S.-led invasion. They have said that the stolen numbers were never used and that the Justice Department never alleged what organization they believed was running the camp, what Abdi intended to do with the training, or whether he ever actually went.
Prosecutors accused Paul, who was arrested in April, of joining Al Qaeda and plotting to bomb European tourist resorts and U.S. government facilities and military bases overseas.