US Sentences Nigerian Al Qaeda Member Lawal Babafemi to 22 Years in Prison


A Nigerian man named Lawal Babafemi, who is an Al Qaeda member, was on Wednesday sentenced to 22 years in prison.

His sentence comes having pleaded guilty in April 2014 to “providing and conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group, New York Times reports.

During court proceedings, Babafemi told the Judge presiding over the case, John Gleeson that he was extremely sorry and that he has denounced Al Qaeda.

In January 2011, Babafemi travelled to Yemen, where he went to a safe house and pledged loyalty to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He also wrote and edited for Inspire Magazine, an English-language propaganda publication, and “wrote English rap lyrics about jihad” as part of an effort to spread the Qaeda branch’s views through songs.

Reports also state that he was making plans to recruit other Nigerians to join the terrorist group.

NYT sheds some light on Babafemi’s background:

Babafemi, about 35, was born in Nigeria. When he was 2, his parents separated — his father had several wives, Mr. Babafemi said in a letter to the judge. After that, he saw his father only three more times.

His mother hauled timber to a sawmill six days a week to support him and his four siblings, and “there were many cases of people dying in this forest due to the attack from the wild animals,” Mr. Babafemi wrote.

Mr. Babafemi was often left in day care or watched by older family members, and he was sexually abused by some of them until he was 10, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Ms. Hoyes.

In Lagos, violent student groups known as cults shut down his college’s operations. After an identification mix-up, he had to repeat his first-year courses, and professors said they lost exams, so he did not get credit for some classes. Mr. Babafemi did not graduate despite paying for and attending for six years.

He married a childhood friend, a woman named Nike, in 2007, and tried to start a fish-farming business. Suppliers, however, lied to him about the species they sold, and power failures made maintaining fresh water for the fish impossible, the memorandum said.

Nike had a stillborn baby and several miscarriages before delivering two children.

In 2010, Mr. Babafemi went to Yemen, apparently wanting to join Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He did not explain why.