U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have charged a Somali, Cholo Abdi Abdullah, of attempting to receive flight training in the Philippines at the direction of a senior al Shabaab commander who had previously organized other major terrorist attacks. The purpose of this training was to carry out a terrorist attack in the United States, including potentially targeting the tallest building in a major U.S. city. In order to carry out the mission, Abdullah reportedly researched how to obtain a U.S. visa and how to breach a cockpit door from the outside.
Although the indictment does not specifically detail how Abdullah was recruited by al-Shabaab, it does state that, in late 2016, he searched for and consumed al Shabaab and al Qaeda propaganda and visited a web page that compiled, among other things, jihadist propaganda about al Qaeda’s attacks on September 11, 2001. The indictment mentions multiple al-Shabaab online propaganda videos by name and prominently discusses the group’s Jerusalem Brigade, whose existence was first announced in May 2018 as a means to confront the Jews and liberate Jerusalem. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)