- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Justice Department unsealed indictments Thursday against 14 people - including seven U.S. citizens - charging them with providing money, personnel and services to a Somali-based terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda.

Two of those accused are women, Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, both naturalized U.S. citizens, who were arrested by FBI agents at their homes in Minneapolis. The others are fugitives, many of whom are thought to be in Somalia actively assisting the terrorist group al-Shabab.

“These indictments and arrests - in Minnesota, Alabama and California - shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to al-Shabab from cities across the United States,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in announcing the indictments.

Al-Shabab is an Islamist insurgency group aligned with al Qaeda that controls much of Somalia’s southern and central regions. With an estimated 3,000 to 7,000 members, it has waged jihad against the weak Somali Transitional Federal Government. Last month, it claimed credit for bombings in Uganda that killed 76 during the World Cup finals in what was the organization’s first international attack.

The indictments are the culmination of a two-year federal investigation that focused, in part, on the disappearance of young men from a number of U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, who were thought to have been recruited by al-Shabab and sent to Somalia. Some of them were killed in the fighting in that country, investigators said.

Ms. Ali, 33, and Ms. Hassan, 63, were accused of providing material support to terrorists. Ms. Hassan also was charged with three counts of making false statements.

The indictment said the women raised money to support al-Shabab through door-to-door solicitations and teleconferences in Somali communities in Minneapolis; Rochester, Minn., and other locations in the United States and Canada. In some cases, according to the indictment, they said the money raised would be used to aid the poor and the needy.

According to the indictment, Ms. Ali sent money to al-Shabab through various hawalas, which are money-transfer businesses common in the Islamic world. She was accused of sending nearly $9,000 to al-Shabab on a dozen occasions between September 2008 and July 2009.

The indictment said that after her home was searched by FBI agents last year, she contacted an al-Shabab leader in southern Somalia, saying: “I was questioned by the enemy here. … They took all my stuff and are investigating it. … Do not accept calls from anyone.”

In Alabama, a September superseding indictment was unsealed against Omar Hammami, 26, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Daphne, Ala. In California, prosecutors unsealed an October indictment against Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 28, a U.S. citizen and former resident of San Diego. Both men are accused of providing material support, including themselves, to terrorists. They are thought to be in Somalia.

Minnesota prosecutors unsealed a July superseding indictment charging U.S. citizens Abdikadir Ali Abdi, 19; Abdisalan Hussein Ali, 21; Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, 33; as well as Farah Mohamed Beledi, 26; and Abdiweli Yassin Isse, 26, with conspiring to and providing material support to al-Shabab and conspiring to kill, maim and injure persons abroad.

Five other defendants previously charged by indictment are also named in the indictment: Ahmed Ali Omar, 27; Khalid Mohamud Abshir, 27; Zakaria Maruf, 31; Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, 22; and Mustafa Ali Salat, 20. They are accused of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations; conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad; possessing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence; and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.

An affidavit previously filed in the case charges that Mr. Faarax and others met at a Minneapolis mosque to telephone co-conspirators in Somalia to discuss the need for Minnesota-based co-conspirators to go to Somalia to fight. The affidavit also said Mr. Faarax attended a meeting in Minneapolis where he encouraged others to fight in Somalia and told them how he had experienced true brotherhood while fighting jihad in Somalia.

“As demonstrated by the charges unsealed today, we are seeing an increasing number of individuals - including U.S. citizens - who have become captivated by extremist ideology and have taken steps to carry out terrorist objectives, either at home or abroad,” Mr. Holder said.

Mr. Holder noted that members of the American Muslim community “have been - and continue to be - strong partners in fighting this emerging threat.”