Three accused al-Qaida associates taken to New York are charged with plotting to ferry drugs through the Sahara desert to raise money for terror attacks - evidence of what prosecutors say is a dangerous, growing alliance between terror chiefs and drug lords.
The arrests Friday marked the first time US authorities captured and charged al-Qaida suspects in a drug trafficking plot in Africa.
The three suspects - believed to be in their 30s and originally from Mali - were arrested by local authorities in Ghana earlier this week and turned over to US agents.
They arrived in the United States early Friday morning, officials said, and were ordered held without bail after a brief court appearance later in the day in which they did not enter pleas to charges of narco-terrorism conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the case showed a "direct link" between al-Qaida and drug traffickers.
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