Nigerian jailed 22 years in US for Al-Qaeda support

An image grab from a video released on March 29, 2014 by Al-Malahem Media, the media arm of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), allegedly shows AQAP jihadists at an undisclosed location in Yemen (AFP Photo/)

New York (AFP) - A 35-year-old Nigerian, who once wrote rap lyrics for Al-Qaeda in Yemen, was sentenced to 22 years in a US prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to terror charges.

Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, who was extradited to New York from Nigeria, was jailed by Judge John Gleeson in a US federal court in Brooklyn, prosecutors announced.

He was originally indicted in the United States on four counts but pleaded guilty in April 2014 to providing and conspiring to provide support to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

He traveled to Yemen after "underwear bomber" and fellow Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with explosives stuffed down his pants.

Babafemi made two trips to Yemen from Nigeria between January 2010 and August 2011 to train with leaders of AQAP in the use of weapons and inspiring "lone-wolf" style attacks overseas.

He helped with their English-language media operations, including online magazine Inspire, in which he was photographed holding an AK-47, according to court documents.

He wrote rap lyrics on behalf of AQAP, hoping to extend its appeal to young Westerners, and was given nearly $9,000 in cash to recruit other English speakers from Nigeria before he was arrested, then extradited to the United States.

Underwear bomber Abdulmutallab, who also traveled to Yemen to meet AQAP leaders, is serving a life sentence in America.

Washington considers Al-Qaeda's franchise in Yemen as one of the network's most dangerous.

It has orchestrated several plots on Western targets and claimed the January killings at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.