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Kansas City man was part of al Qaida cell, feds say

A Kansas City businessman awaiting sentencing for providing support to al Qaida was part of a small terror cell with two New York men, federal officials said Monday.

Beginning in late 2007, Khalid Ouazzani, 34, of Kansas City, contributed money to the terrorist organization through Sabirhan Hasanoff of Brooklyn. In June 2008, another man, Wesam El-Hanafi, accepted Ouazzani’s oath of allegiance to al-Qaida, according to federal court records in New York, where Ouazzani is identified only as “CC-1.”

El-Hanafi pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy Monday in federal court in New York. Hasanoff pleaded guilty earlier this month.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City confirmed the link between the cases.

Ouazzani pleaded guilty in Kansas City in May 2010 to providing material support to a terrorist organization. He admitted sending more than $23,000 to al Qaida and performing “other tasks” for the group.

With the connection to the New York case clarified Monday, the nature of the “other tasks” Ouazzani performed also came into focus.

According to court records, Hasanoff advised Ouazzani not to allow his U.S. passport to become filled with immigration stamps in order to retain its value to al Qaida. Ouazzani also contacted a consulate in New York after speaking with the other men. He discussed with El-Hanafi and Hasanoff how they could seek out additional contacts within the terrorist organization.

The three men met in Brooklyn in May 2008 to discuss membership in al Qaida, court records said.

When federal prosecutors in New York announced charges against Hasanoff and El-Hanafi in April 2010, they said the pair had conspired to modernize the terrorist organization by updating its computer systems, including purchasing a software program that “enabled him to communicate securely with others over the Internet.”