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Tunisian Man Charged In New York Terror Cell Plot

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) --  A Tunisian man was arrested in New York and is accused of trying to stay in the U.S. illegally to build a terrorism cell.

The federal indictment against Ahmed Abassi was unsealed Thursday. Abassi was arrested on April 22, and was arraigned a week ago on visa fraud charges, officials said.

Abassi came to the United States from Canada in mid-March, meeting regularly with an undercover FBI agent, officials said.

He also met with another Tunisian citizen who was later arrested in Canada in a terrorist plot to derail a train, according to officials.

"As alleged, Ahmed Abassi had an evil purpose for seeking to remain in the United States – to commit acts of terror and develop a network of terrorists here, and to use this country as a base to support the efforts of terrorists internationally," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Thursday.

According to the indictment, Abassi discussed his desire to engage in terrorist acts against targets in the United States and other countries. He also intended to provide support and funding to organizations engaged in terrorist activity – including the al Nusrah Front, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of State as an alias for al Qaeda in Iraq – and to recruit other individuals for terrorist plots, according to the indictment.

"The allegations in this case serve as still another reminder that terrorism has not abated, that we must remain vigilant, and that when we do, terrorist plots against us can be thwarted," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

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