Alleged al Qaeda fighter held secretly in N.Y. area

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The Justice Department revealed Wednesday that a man accused of being a veteran al Qaeda terrorist has been in custody in the New York area for five months under complete secrecy.

A federal judge in Brooklyn has lifted the veil over the case of Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, who also goes by the name "Spin Ghul." When the FBI whisked Harun into a Brooklyn courtroom at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, October 4, after an extradition flight from Italy and amid a sensitive terrorism investigation, he got a new name: "John Doe."

A six-count federal indictment and the underlying documents provide a vivid account of Harun's alleged history as an al Qaeda trainee, fighter and bomb plotter. A letter from United States Attorney Loretta Lynch to Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go on the day of the secret hearing says Harun arrived in Afghanistan shortly before the September 11, 2011 attacks. He received military training, fought against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, fought in Pakistan, then moved to Nigeria to plot attacks on diplomatic facilities.

After the arrest of a co-conspirator, Harun went to Niger and then Libya, where he was arrested and held for six years. When he was released, he hopped on a refugee ship bound for Italy but was arrested "after proclaiming his affiliation with al Qaeda and assaulting Italian officers on board the ship."

The letter also reveals that Harun waived his Miranda rights and cooperated with Italian authorities who questioned him over three straight days. In the partially redacted document, Lynch says "should the defendant continue to provide information to the government, it is possible that such information would permit the government to learn of terrorist plots, identify terrorist operatives and potentially seek criminal process for those operatives or related evidence."

Harun entered a not guilty plea when he was arraigned as "John Doe" in October. On Friday, he will make his first appearance in open court during a status conference scheduled by Judge Edward Korman. One of the defense attorneys for Harun, David Stern, would not comment on the case.