Yemeni national accused of holding Buffalo girl hostage, marrying her off

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It will be Friday before the brother of one of the members of the Lackawanna Six finds out whether he’ll be released on bail while he’s awaiting trial on federal charges of extortion.

Federal authorities said Yousef Goba, 43, held his then-13-year-old niece against her will starting in the summer of 2014, and eventually threatened the girl’s father — Goba’s brother-in-law — to pay a ransom, or he would marry her off to a man in Yemen.

The girl’s family is from Buffalo, and travel often to Yemen. Goba is from Yemen, and was arrested June 2 at JFK International Airport as he was trying to enter the United States.

Yahya Goba and five others pleaded guilty to federal charges of supporting terrorism. Authorities say they were the first Americans to train with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. They were arrested in 2002, and each served between seven and 10 years in prison. Most of them are now living back in western New York.

The complaint against Yousef Goba was just unsealed last week. It alleges Yousef Goba held his niece hostage in the summer of 2014, not allowing her to leave after she, her mother and four siblings stayed at his house in Yemen. Between February and April 2015, the complaint states Yousef Goba threatened the girl’s father to pay him $12,000, or he would marry her off to another man from Yemen.
Less than a year later, with the threats still coming in, the girl’s father asked the FBI to investigate.
The complaint states federal agents have text messages, taped phone conversations and more between Yousef Goba and the girl’s father, which show Goba taunting and threatening the man, even sending him pictures of her with a ring on her finger and standing by a wedding cake.
“Goba told the Victim Father (sic) that he contacted an Imam in Yemen who said that he would marry the Victim Child (sic) and the Yemeni national if one of the Victim Child’s parents consented to the marriage,” the complaint states. “Since neither the Victim father nor the Victim Mother consented to the marriage, Goba told the Victim Father that he would forge the Victim Father’s signature on the paperwork authorizing the marriage and present the paperwork to the Imam.”
“Neither the Victim Father nor the Victim Mother consent to the Victim Child getting married at such a young age,” the complaint reads. “Both parents agree that when the Victim Child is 18 years old, she can decide whether or not she wants to marry.”

As of September, federal authorities said the young girl had been married off to Yousef Goba’s brother-in-law in a small village in Yemen.

If convicted, Yousef Goba could spend up to 20 years in federal prison.

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