2002 Columbus, Ohio shopping mall bombing plot

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The Columbus Shopping Mall Bombing Plot was a plan to blow up an unnamed shopping mall in the city of Columbus in the American state of Ohio. The plot was disclosed by federal authorities on June 14, 2004, when an indictment against Nuradin Abdi was unsealed by the local United States District Court. Abdi was part of a clandestine cell of al-Qaeda which sought to bring "death and destruction to Columbus".[1]


Nuradin Abdi entered the United States as an asylum seeker from Somalia.[2] He lived in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood on the north side of Columbus. According to one report, Abdi flew to Ethiopia to train in a military-style training camp in January 2000. There he allegedly was trained in the use of guns, guerrilla warfare, and bombs.[3] He returned two months later. Abdi met with Christopher Paul and Iyman Faris at a coffee shop in Upper Arlington on August 6, 2002.[4] According to Paul (who was awaiting trial for a separate plot to bomb European tourist resorts), Abdi first suggested shooting up a mall. Paul responded saying "that's a stupid idea". Abdi subsequently suggested bombing the mall, but few other details have been released.

Abdi was arrested on November 28, 2003, and charged with Conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, Conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaeda, and two counts of fraud and misuse of documents. His attorneys became concerned with his mental state, and he was sent to a federal medical center in Minnesota in June 2004 to undergo tests.[5] He was returned to Columbus in August 2004 and held in the Franklin County Correctional Facility II. On July 31, 2007, Abdi plead guilty to one count of conspiring to support terrorists.[6] The other charges against him were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Abdi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and will be deported to Somalia upon completion of the sentence.

New details released at the time of the plea agreement show that there were likely more than the aforementioned three people who were involved in the plot. Documents that were filed along with Abdi's agreement note a fourth person whom the trio met with both in Columbus and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A 2011 NPR report claimed some of the people associated with this plot were imprisoned in a highly restrictive Communication Management Unit.[7]


  1. ^ Mayhood, Kevin; Jonathan Riskind; Robert Ruth (2004-06-15). "MALL WAS TARGET, U.S. SAYS: PART 2 OF 2". The Columbus Dispatch. pp. News 01A. 
  2. ^ https://www.justice.gov/archive/opa/pr/2007/July/07_nsd_568.html
  3. ^ "Somali Native Charged in a Bomb Plot, Ashcroft Says". 2004-06-14. Archived from the original on 2008-12-03. 
  4. ^ Welsh-Huggins, Andrew (2007-06-09). "Man's trial will note his friends, 2 terror suspects". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2007-06-30. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Evaluation Under Way for Suspect in Mall Plot". The Columbus Dispatch. 2004-06-26. pp. News 04B. 
  6. ^ Andes, Jodi (2007-08-01). "Somali man pleads guilty to plot". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2007-08-01. [dead link]
  7. ^ DATA & GRAPHICS: Population Of The Communications Management Units, Margot Williams and Alyson Hurt, NPR, 3-3-11, retrieved 2011 03 04 from npr.org