Sunday, January 16, 2011

Indictments unsealed for numerous male and female terror suspects with links to al Shabaab/Al Qaeda

The Justice Department announced that four separate indictments were unsealed in the Southern District of California, the District of Minnesota and the Southern District of Alabama, charging 14 individuals with terrorism for providing money, personnel, and services to the foreign terrorist organization al Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab (aka the Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahidin, al-Shabab, Al-Shabaab, the Youth, Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement, Mujahideen Youth Movement, Mujahidin Youth Movement), is an Islamic organization that controls much of southern Somalia, excluding the capital, Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab leaders have claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda since 2007.

In what marked the group's first major attack outside of Somalia, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for twin bombings that killed more than seventy people in Kampala, Uganda during the World Cup final on July 11, 2010.

Jehad Mostafa – Southern District of California

Prosecutors in the Southern District of California unsealed an October 2009 indictment charging Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 28, aka “Ahmed,” “Emir Anwar,” “Awar,” a U.S. citizen and former resident of San Diego, California. Mostafa was charged with providing material support to al Shabaab.

The indictment charged Mostafa with the following:
  1. Conspiracy to provide material support, including himself as personnel, to terrorists;
  2. Conspiracy to provide material support to al Shabaab;
  3. Providing material support to the terrorist organization.
Mostafa faces a potential 15 years in prison for each of the three counts of the indictment. Jehad Serwan Mostafa is still at large, considered to be armed and dangerous and is currently believed to be in Somalia.

Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan – two female terror suspects – District of Minnesota

On August 5, 2010, FBI agents arrested Amina Farah Ali, 33, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 63, both naturalized U.S. citizens from Somalia and residents of Rochester, Minnesota. Both women stand charged in an indictment with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to al Shabaab from September 17, 2008 through July 19, 2010. Ali is also charged in the indictment with 12 substantive counts of providing material support to al Shabaab. Additionally, Hassan is charged with three counts of making false statements.

The indictment alleges that, as part of the conspiracy, Ali communicated by telephone with terror affiliates in Somalia who requested financial assistance for al Shabaab. It is alleged in the indictments that Ali, Hassan, and others raised money for al Shabaab by soliciting funds door-to-door in Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and other locations in the United States and Canada. In addition, the defendants allegedly raised money by participating in teleconferences that featured speakers who encouraged donations to support al Shabaab. Ali also allegedly raised funds under the false pretense that such funds were for the poor and needy.

The indictment alleges that Ali and others transferred funds to al Shabaab through the hawala money remittance system. Ali and others allegedly used false names to identify the recipients of the funds to conceal that the funds were being provided to al Shabaab. The indictment lists 12 money transfers allegedly directed to al Shabaab by Ali.

The indictment alleges several overt acts to carry out the fund-raising conspiracy. For example, on Oct. 26, 2008, Ali hosted a teleconference in which an unindicted co-conspirator told listeners that it was not the time to help the poor and needy in Somalia; rather the priority was to give to the mujahidin. Ali and Hassan allegedly recorded $2,100 in pledges at the conclusion of the teleconference.

On Feb. 10, 2009, Ali conducted another fundraising teleconference in which she told listeners to “forget about the other charities” and focus on “the jihad.”

On July 14, 2009, the day after the FBI executed a search warrant at her home, Ali allegedly contacted an unindicted co-conspirator and said, “I was questioned by the enemy here...they took all my stuff and are investigating it...do not accept calls from anyone.” The indictment further alleges that when Hassan was questioned by agents in an investigation involving international terrorism, she made false statements.

If convicted, both women face a potential 15 years in prison on the conspiracy count. Ali also faces a potential 15 years in prison on each material support count, and Hassan also faces a potential 8 years in prison on each false statement count.

Third Superseding Indictment – District of Minnesota

In addition to the above-mentioned arrests of two females indicted for terrorist activities, prosecutors in the District of Minnesota also unsealed a July 2010 third superseding indictment that charges the following individuals:

  • Abdikadir Ali Abdi, 19, a U.S. citizen;
  • Abdisalan Hussein Ali, 21, a U.S. citizen;
  • Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, 33, a U.S. citizen;
  • Farah Mohamed Beledi, 26;
  • Abdiweli Yassin Isse, 26.
They stand charged with the following crimes:

  1. Providing material support to al Shabaab;
  2. Conspiracy to kill, maim, and injure persons abroad;
  3. Other terrorism-related offenses.
Faarax and Isse have been previously charged in a criminal complaint.

Five other defendants who had been previously indicted are named in the third superseding indictment. They are:
  • Ahmed Ali Omar, 27;
  • Khalid Mohamud Abshir, 27;
  • Zakaria Maruf, 31;
  • Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, 22;
  • Mustafa Ali Salat, 20.
These individuals are charged with the following crimes:
  1. Conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations;
  2. Conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, and injure persons abroad;
  3. Possessing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence;
  4. Solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
The unsealed indictment alleges that the 10 defendants provided financial support and personnel, including themselves as fighters, both to a conspiracy to kill abroad and to the foreign terrorist organization al Shabaab. Specifically, the indictment alleges that the five newly-added defendants traveled to Somalia in 2008 and 2009.

Indicted terror co-conspirators have traveled unnoticed, apparently exploiting Department of Homeland Security’s shortcomings in the processing of certain applicants for admission from Special Interest Countries (SIC). For example, on 4th of July, 2004, 23 persons from Special Interest Countries (SIC) entered the United States via the San Ysidro Port Of Entry (SYS POE), without being enrolled in the NSEERS. As of 2010, they remain unaccounted for and there has been no investigation into their whereabouts. DHS officials attempted to justify this security failure by stating that NSEERS enrollment was “discretionary” and applied only to non-immigrants. This deeply flawed approach fails to take into account the fact that numerous green card holders and naturalized U.S. citizens have been involved in terror conspiracies, as the above-mentioned indictments clearly demonstrate.

In addition, the charges allege that Faarax solicited Salah Osman Ahmed, Shirwa Ahmed (now deceased), and Kamal Said Hassan to provide support to al Shabaab, and that Faraax made false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international terrorism.

The indictment also alleges that, in October 2009, Farah Mohamed Beledi committed passport fraud. In the fall of 2007, Faarax and others allegedly met at a Minneapolis mosque and telephoned co-conspirators in Somalia to discuss the need for Minnesota-based co-conspirators to travel to Somalia to fight for the jihad. It is further alleged that Faarax attended a subsequent meeting in Minneapolis where he encouraged others to fight in Somalia, telling them how he had experienced true brotherhood while fighting jihad in Somalia. When interviewed by authorities, U.S. Citizen Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax denied all charges.

The affidavit filed in the case also alleges that Abdiweli Yassin Isse encouraged others to travel to Somalia to wage “jihad” against Ethiopians. Isse later raised money to purchase airline tickets for others to travel to Somalia for the same purpose. In raising this money, Isse allegedly misled community members into thinking they were contributing money to send young men to Saudi Arabia to study the Koran. The 10 defendants charged in the third superseding indictment are not in custody and are believed to be overseas.

The charges against all the defendants in Minnesota stem from an ongoing, two-year investigation into the recruitment of persons from the United States to train with or fight for al Shabaab. To date, a total of 19 persons have been charged in the District of Minnesota in indictments or criminal complaints that have been unsealed. Of these Minnesota defendants, 9 have been arrested in the United States or overseas and 5 of them pleaded guilty. The remaining defendants are wanted by the FBI and believed to be abroad.

Omar Hammami – Southern District of Alabama

On August 5, 2010 in the Southern District of Alabama, prosecutors unsealed a September 2009 superseding indictment against Omar Hammami, 26, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Daphne, Alabama, also known as “Abu Mansour al-Amriki,” or “Farouk.”

The three-count indictment alleges that Hammami engaged in the following activities:
  • Providing material support (including himself as personnel) to terrorists;
  • Conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al Shabaab;
  • Providing material support to al Shabaab.
Omar Shafik Hammami, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, faces a potential 15 years in prison for each of the three counts of the indictment. He is wanted by the FBI and is currently believed to be in Somalia.

Separately, prosecutors unsealed a third superseding indictment charging 10 men with terrorism offenses for leaving the United States to join al Shabaab. Seven of these defendants had been previously charged by either indictment or criminal complaint. The remaining three defendants had not been charged before.

The arrests and charges were announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, as well as David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; B. Todd Jones, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota; Kenyen R. Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama; and Laura E. Duffy, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.

Attorney General Holder said, “The indictments unsealed today shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to the al Shabaab terror organization from cities across the United States…While our investigations are ongoing around the country, these arrests and charges should serve as an unmistakable warning to others considering joining terrorist groups like al Shabaab—if you choose this route you can expect to find yourself in a U.S. jail cell or a casualty on the battlefield in Somalia.”

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III added, “For those who would become terrorists, these cases send a strong message. They underscore the need for continued vigilance against those who may seek to harm us and our way of life. Our agents and analysts will continue to confront this threat with a strong and coordinated effort as we work to protect all Americans.”

The case in the Southern District of California is being investigated by the FBI’s San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William P. Cole and Shane P. Harrigan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and Trial Attorney Sharon Lever of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The cases in the District of Minnesota are being investigated by the FBI’s Minneapolis Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), with the assistance of the Dutch KLPD; the Dutch Ministry of Justice; the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs; the State Department, including U.S. Embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Yemen; the Hague in the Netherlands; and the Department of Defense. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys W. Anders Folk and Jeffrey S. Paulsen, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, and Trial Attorneys William M. Narus and Steven Ward of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The case in the Southern District of Alabama is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Mobile, Alabama, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama, and Trial Attorney Sharon Lever of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Fourteen Charged with Providing Material Support to Somalia-Based Terrorist Organization al Shabaab, Two Arrested in Minnesota in Connection with the Charges

Photographs of wanted terror suspects

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