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A New Yorker accused of trying to start what prosecutors called "a mini al-Qaida cell" pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of conspiracy and providing material support to a terrorist organization.

An indictment had alleged that Wesam El-Hanafi pledged loyalty to al-Qaida and sought to teach the terror group how to evade detection on the Internet after he went to Yemen in 2008.

The Brooklyn-born El-Hanafi admitted in federal court in Manhattan to having conversations in 2009 with a co-defendant about "seeking out additional contacts within al-Qaida." The co-defendant, Sabirhan Hasanoff, pleaded guilty to similar charges earlier this month.

Prosecutors had portrayed the two U.S. citizens as a new, more sophisticated breed of homegrown terrorist: Both had earned college degrees and landed well-paying jobs before trying to share their expertise with al-Qaida.


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