Justice Department says 14 charged with supporting terrorism in SomaliaBy Pete Yost, AP
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Justice: 14 charged for supporting Somalia group
WASHINGTON — The government charged 14 people Thursday with supporting “a deadly pipeline” routing money and fighters to the terrorist group al-Shabab in Somalia.
The cases in Minnesota, California and Alabama reflect “a very disturbing trend” of increasing support for terrorism, Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference Thursday. He credited leaders in Muslim communities in the U.S. for helping law enforcement agencies address the problem.
The nation “must prevent this kind of captivation from taking hold,” the attorney general said.
Most of the people charged are U.S. citizens. Some supported the terrorist organization from the United States and others traveled to Somalia to join up with al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab is a Somali insurgent faction embracing a radical form of Islam similar to the harsh, conservative brand practiced by Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. Its fighters, numbering several thousand strong, are battling Somalia’s weakened government and have been branded a terrorist group by the U.S. and other Western countries.
The federal government designated al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization in March 2008, and said it has ties to al-Qaida.
The Obama administration also released a report Thursday warning that says al-Qaida’s core membership in Pakistan along with affiliates in Africa and Yemen pose the most dangerous terrorist threat to the United States and its interests abroad. The State Department’s annual report on worldwide terrorism noted with concern that al-Qaida, particularly in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, appeared to be attracting growing numbers of radicalized Americans to its cause.
Roughly 20 men from the U.S. — all but one of Somali descent — left Minnesota from December 2007 through October 2009 to join al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.
Somali-Americans have been recruited and have taken part in suicide bombings in Somalia, and U.S. officials fear trained Somali-American terror plotters could return to the United States.
Al-Shabab last month claimed twin bombings in Uganda that killed 76 during the World Cup final, the group’s first international attack. Uganda and Burundi both have peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu, and al-Shabab has vowed to continue attacks against the two countries.
The charges in Minnesota are the latest development in an inquiry in that state which has been under way for some time.
Two indictments unsealed in Minnesota on Thursday added five new names to a list of people charged in the investigation in that state, bringing the total charged in the state to 19. Two were women from the Rochester, Minn., area accused of raising money for al-Shabab.
The Minneapolis indictment said two men, Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, raised money for al-Shabab both by open appeals on teleconferences and by pretending in other cases that the money was for the poor and needy.
The indictment cited 12 money transfers to al-Shabaab in 2008 and 2009 totaling $8,608. The charges included providing material support to a terrorist group and lying to authorities.
Al-Shabab members began pledging allegiance to al-Qaida last year. One of its most famous members is known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, or “the American.” He appeared in a jihadist video in May 2009.
In another case unrelated to Thursday’s developments, a 26-year-old Chicago man who told an FBI informant that he didn’t expect to reach the age of 30 was charged with plotting to go to Somalia to become a suicide bomber for al-Qaida and al-Shabab.
During a brief hearing Wednesday, prosecutors told a judge that the Chicago man, Shaker Masri, attempted to provide support through the use of a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States.
Associated Press writer Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.
Tags: Africa, Bombings, East Africa, Indictments, Middle East, Militant Groups, Minneapolis, Minnesota, North America, Somalia, Terrorism, United States, Washington, Yemen