A third member of an alleged six-person terrorist sleeper cell in Lackawanna, N.Y., pleaded guilty in Buffalo's federal court today, acknowledging he attended an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and allowed a recruiter from the terrorist network to stay at his home through Sept. 11, 2001.
Yahya Goba, a 26-year-old who, according to his lawyer, taught religion to children in the Yemeni American community, pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. On Monday, his friend Shafal Mosed pleaded guilty to the same charge, and in January a third member of the group pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for cooperating with the government.
Three others still face trial but have been discussing plea agreements, authorities have said. The alleged leader of the group, Kemal Derwish, was believed killed in a CIA airstrike in Yemen on Nov. 3.
In early April 2001, Goba told prosecutors that he agreed to attend the al Farooq training camp in Afghanistan with his friends from Lackawanna. Before heading to camp, Goba stayed at a guest house in Kandahar, where he watched videos about the bombing of the USS Cole and heard speakers talk about "the justification for suicide bombings in jihad."
At al Farooq, Goba received weapons training, took turns standing guard duty and attended a speech by bin Laden during which the al Qaeda leader mentioned "40 men willing to become martyrs for their cause."
Mosed left the camp early, but Goba remained to finish training. When he returned home in August 2001, he allowed a recruiter to stay with him. After Sept. 11, the recruiter left for Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban.
Authorities have said they have no evidence of any terrorist plots by the Lackawanna group.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul said that Goba provided important details about his recruiter and the financial backer who helped him attend the al Farooq camp.