Also today in Minneapolis, the verdict was handed down to the two Somali women from the Minneapolis area accused of fundraising for al-Shabaab. Both were found guilty and face jail time.
Members of the Twin Cities’ Somali community, Homeland Security, and media gathered outside the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis to await the verdict.
From the Star Tribune:
Amina Farah Ali, 35, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 64, were the first people to go on trial in connection with a sweeping federal investigation into alleged recruitment and fundraising activities in Minnesota for Al-Shabab — classified by U.S. authorities in February 2008 as a foreign terrorist organization.
Under U.S. law, it is illegal to support a foreign terrorist group.
Prosecutors said Ali and Hassan were part of a “deadly pipeline” that supplied money and fighters from the United States to Somalia. They said from September 2008 through July 2009, the women conspired to provide material support to Al-Shabab, knowing it was considered a terrorist group.
Lawyers for Ali and Hassan, however, said that their clients did not know about the designation and were sincere in their efforts to help the needy back in Somalia. As survivors of war themselves, and as religious women, they felt compelled to aid those still struggling in Somalia, the defense argued.
Both Ali and Hassan, who are U.S. citizens, were charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Ali also faced 12 counts of providing support for allegedly sending more than $8,600 to Al-Shabab from September 2008 through July 2009.
Additionally, Hassan was charged with lying to FBI agents.
Each terrorism count carries a 15-year maximum prison sentence, while lying to the FBI carries an eight-year maximum sentence.
In July 2009, the homes of both of these women were searched as part of an FBI probe into the “disappearance” of about twenty men from the Twin Cities.
“Authorities believe the young Somali-American men are fighting with an extremist militia called Al-Shabaab, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group.”
But eventually the women were accused, and today convicted, of knowingly aiding al-Shabab with donations of money and clothes. It has been over two years since their initial encounter with the FBI.
I would be interested to know if the Lewiston/Portland (ME) Somali communities are likewise galvanized by this verdict.
h/t Dan Menssen