Lackawanna, NY “good boy” in custody in Yemen

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

22 January 2010: Jaber A. ELBANEH, 43 year-old former resident of the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna ,NY and one of the leaders of the “Lackawanna Six” group of young Yemeni terrorists is reportedly in custody again in Yemen, according to officials. In the spirit of cooperation with the Holder Justice Department and the Obama administration, he now wants to “lawyer up,” perhaps taking cues from 23-year-old Nigerian native Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Muslim terrorist who attempted to blow Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from the sky on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab, who was reportedly trained in Yemen by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was read his rights and granted access to a lawyer.

ELABNEH was indicted in absentia in a federal criminal complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, Buffalo, New York, charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda. He was added to the “FBI Most Wanted Terrorist” list with a $5 million reward offered for his arrest and conviction. Yemeni authorities have had ELBANEH in custody several times in the past seven years, but Yemen’s government has refused requests from the U.S. government to extradite him.

A desire by the government of Yemen to collect on the reward, extensive government corruption in Yemen, along with the absence of any extradition treaty with the U.S., all seemed to have been factors in the twisted saga of ELBANAH. In a surreal court setting in 2008, ELBANEH managed to walk freely in and out of a Yemeni courtroom despite being a wanted terrorist.

The government of Yemen convicted ELBANEH in 2002 for his participation with the 2002 Limburg oil tanker bombing that killed one person and injured at least a dozen others. He was also convicted in Yemen for other terror plots to attack oil installations inside that country.

Jaber ELBANEH was born in Yemen but moved to Lackawanna, New York at an early age. He married and fathered at least seven children, and had a rather spotty work record that included a stint at his uncles used car lot, work at a south Buffalo cheese factory and as a taxi cab driver.

In May 2001, ELABNEH left Western New York and traveled to Pakistan after reportedly scamming credit card companies and local merchants out of $145,000 for goods he purchased but for which he never intended to pay. From there, he and others from Lackawanna attended al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, where they honed their skills as Islamic terrorists. ELBANEH also met Osama bin Laden at one of the guest houses in Kandahar after an evening of watching motivational films that included footage of the attack on the USS Cole.

While in Yemeni custody on 3 February 2006, ELBANEH was one of 23 prison inmates of a Yemeni prison, many who were being held for the bombings of the USS Cole and the  Limburg tanker, who escaped by digging a 143 foot tunnel to a nearby mosque. According to reports pertaining to the prison escape, it was “strongly suspected” that the prisoners had assistance from inside of the prison.

In November 2006, Jaber Elbaneh’s uncle, Mohamed T. Albanna, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for running a Buffalo business that illegally sent money to people in Yemen.  On February 21, 2003, Mohamed Albanna and his business were enjoined as defendant numbers 191 and 192 in a 15 count, 400-plus page complaint in a ONE-TRILLION DOLLAR civil suit filed by the families of victims of the September 11th attacks.

As clearly noted in an article about ELBANEH in Wednesday’s online edition of The Buffalo News, “Lackawanna friends and family members of Elbaneh have repeatedly called the Lackawanna High School alumnus a law-abiding, devout Muslim who never would become involved in terrorism.”

RELATED: The Northeast Intelligence Network warned of a resurgence of al Qaeda in Yemen nearly a year-and-a-half ago in our article dated 19 September 2020 titled: U.S. Embassy in Yemen – just the beginning.