- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

The Justice Department announced Monday terrorism charges against eight people accused of recruiting young men in Minneapolis to fight for an al Qaeda-inspired organization in Somalia.

For the past two years, authorities say, about 20 young men, all but one of whom are of Somali decent, have left their homes in Minnesota to go fight with al-Shabaab, which has pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and is considered a terrorist organization by the State Department. The group is currently engaged in a civil war against Somalia’s government, which they consider insufficiently Muslim.

“The recruitment of young people from Minneapolis and other U.S. communities to fight for extremists in Somalia has been the focus of intense investigation for many months,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “While the charges unsealed today underscore our progress to date, this investigation is ongoing. Those who sign up to fight or recruit for al-Shabaabs terror network should be aware that they may well end up as defendants in the United States or casualties of the Somali conflict.”

Only one of the people charged Monday is in custody.

Mahamud Said Omar, who was charged in a five-count indictment in August, was arrested in the Netherlands earlier this month and the U.S. is currently seeking his extradition. Omar, a Somali citizen who was granted permanent U.S. resident status in 1994, is accused of providing money to the young men who went from Minneapolis to Somalia.

Two of the other men charged, who are believed to be overseas, are accused of being in contact with al-Shabaab members in Somalia and encouraged young men in Minneapolis to go wage jihad there.

Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax and Abdiweli Yassin Isse are charged with conspiring to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons outside the United States.

The other five charged — Ahmed Ali Omar, Khalid Abshir, Zakaria Maruf, Mohamed Hassan and Mustafa Salat — were charged last summer with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations; conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure people outside the United States; possessing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence; and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.

The details of those accusations was not immediately clear from the indictments, which were unsealed Monday.

Including the eight cases announced Monday, 14 people have been charged in federal court in Minnesota as part of a months-long investigation into al-Shabaab and young men from Minneapolis.

Four of the other six have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

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