Minneapolis Somali man indicted for supporting terrorists
A 24-year-old local Somali man was indicted this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on charges of conspiring to provide support to terrorists.
Omer Abdi Mohamed, an unemployed employment counselor and father of a two-month-old boy, also was indicted on charges of conspiracy to “kill, kidnap, maim or injure” people in foreign countries.
Mohamed, of Minneapolis, is the sixth Somali man with local ties to be charged in connection with a two-year-old federal counterrorism investigation aimed at finding out who recruited up to 20 local men of Somali descent to return to their homeland and train and fight with the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab. The probe is considered to be one of the most widesweeping counterterrorism investigations since 9/11.
Mohamed appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel, who agreed to release Mohamed on a $25,000 signature bond after Mohamed’s attorney, Peter Wold, argued that his client was not a risk to flee.
Wold said his client has known for months that he was the subject of a government investigation. He also said that as a young father, Mohamed has no incentive to run.
His next court appearance is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 24.
Minneapolis has been at the center of the international counterterrorism investigation for nearly two years, since the first of up to 20 young Somali men from Minnesota began quietly leaving to return to their homeland. In most cases, the men left without telling their families or friends of their plans.
Some men who left were in their early 20s, others were in their teens. Some left before or during their senior year of high school.
The focus of the investigation has been revealing the identities of those who recruited the men and financed their return to Somalia to train and fight.
The men are believed to have been recruited by Al-Shabab, which has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization with links to Al-Qaida.
Since October 2008, five of the Minnesotans who have left have died, including Shirwa Ahmed, 26, a former college student from Minneapolis who is believed to be the first U.S. citizen to act as a suicide bomber. Ahmed died at the center of an explosion in northern Somalia in October 2008.
A sixth man, a Muslim convert from Minneapolis, also is thought to have been killed.
In addition, four other Somali-American men from Minnesota or who have ties to Minnesota have pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis to charges related to this case. Three of those men pleaded guilty earlier this year, and admitted to traveling to Somalia and attending an Al-Shabab training camp.
Source: Star Tribune
By JAMES WALSH, Star Tribune
STAFF WRITER RICHARD MERYHEW CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.