WASHINGTON - A Tunisian man who served 10 years in a Belgian prison for planning to attack a NATO air base on behalf of al-Qaida was extradited to the United States on Thursday to face similar US charges, the Justice Department said.
Nizar Trabelsi, 43, was arrested in Belgium two days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, and was convicted by a Belgian court in 2003 of plotting to blow himself up at the Kleine Brogel base, which housed US soldiers.
He was imprisoned in Belgium until his extradition.
Based on the same alleged plot, he faces US charges of conspiring to kill Americans abroad, conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and supporting a foreign terrorist organization, according to an indictment in US District Court in Washington, DC.
Trabelsi in early 2001 met al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and offered to attack US targets, the indictment said.
Months later, he allegedly scouted the Kleine Brogel base at night and had chemicals that could be used as a weapon.
Trabelsi is a former professional soccer player who played for German Bundesliga team Fortuna Duesseldorf in the 1980s.
US court records did not yet show an attorney assigned to represent him.