Ally of al-Qaida Terrorist Admits to Conspiracy in Ohio Mall Plot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A Somali immigrant the government says plotted to blow up an Ohio shopping mall pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Nuradin Abdi, 35, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley a week before the expected Aug. 6 start of his trial. He answered each of the judge's questions with a quiet, 'Yes, Your Honor.'

Under a plea deal, Abdi is expected to receive a 10-year sentence on the count, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years. Three additional charges were dropped in exchange for the plea.

The Justice Department accused Abdi of suggesting the plan to attack an unidentified Columbus shopping mall during an August 2002 coffee shop meeting with now-convicted al-Qaida 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-Qaida plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris scouted the bridge and told al-Qaida 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-Qaida, 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 the stolen numbers were never used and 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-Qaida and plotting to bomb European tourist resorts and U.S. government facilities and military bases overseas.

Abdi was to remain at the Franklin County jail until his sentencing date, which was not set.