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June 14, 2013

Al Qaeda Propagandist Faces Extradition To New York

A British national of Vietnamese origin is facing extradition to the United States for his alleged role helping Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) create and distribute the type of online propaganda that has become a staple of domestic terroristsinspire-al-qaeda-pham

The indictment, filed in New York federal court in June 2012, alleges that Minh Quang Pham “provided expert advice and assistance in photography and graphic design of media” for AQAP. In addition to helping AQAP craft its propaganda, authorities also allege that Pham helped disseminate the propaganda.

These graphics, coupled with Western references, practical information and anti-Semitic narratives have made AQAP’s Inspire magazine an effective recruitment and radicalization tool. 

Before traveling to Yemen in 2010 and bringing his professional expertise to AQAP, Pham reportedly established a business in London as a web and graphics designer. 

The indictment also alleges that Pham met with two unnamed Americans, a likely reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP’s American-born ideologue who also served as its chief of external operations, and Samir Khan, an American blogger who was believed to be the principal editor of Inspire. Both Awlaki and Khan were killed in a drone strike in September 2011.

Pham is formally charged with providing material support to AQAP, receiving military training from a terrorist organization, firearms charges and two other related crimes. He reportedly traveled from the UK to Yemen in 2010 where he allegedly received weapons training, took an oath of allegiance to AQAP, and provided his expert media advice to the terrorist organization.

British authorities arrested Pham last June, coinciding with the announcement of the American charges against him. He had previously been in immigration custody after ammunition was allegedly found in his bag after he returned from the Middle East.  His extradition hearing is scheduled for August. 

If convicted on all charges, he faces the possibility of life in prison.