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Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged a Kenyan man with plotting a Sept. 11-style attack on a building in an American city, according to a newly unsealed federal indictment.

The man, Cholo Abdi Abdullah, was described in the indictment as an operative for the Shabab, the Somali terrorist group that has been described as Al Qaeda’s largest and most active global affiliate.

The indictment said that under the direction of a senior Shabab commander who planned a deadly 2019 attack on a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Abdullah sought to obtain pilot training, test flaws in airport security, and take other steps in preparation for hijacking a civil aircraft and conducting a terrorist attack on behalf of the Shabab.

He began the process of enrolling in a flight school in the Philippines in 2016, received training and ultimately completed the tests necessary to obtain his pilot’s license, according to the charges.

He also researched methods of hijacking a commercial airliner, like how to breach a cockpit door from the outside, as well as other airplane security issues, the indictment charged.

The indictment says Mr. Abdullah conducted research about the tallest building in a major U.S. city and sought information about how to obtain an American visa. The indictment does not identify the city or the building.

Mr. Abdullah, who was arrested by the Philippine authorities last year, has been brought to New York and is expected to arraigned in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday, Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said.

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