Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Charges Connect Fight in Somalia to the U.S.

Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that the troubles in Somalia are a pet issue of mine. Yesterday the Justice Department revealed that it has filed terrorism charges against several Somali ex-patriots. The charges are against 14 individuals from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area who recruited and raised money to send 20 Somali-Americans to fight in Somalia for the terrorist group al Shabaab. Minnesota is not exactly known as a hot-bed for terrorist activity, but apparently a good number of Somalis fled the country in the early 1990's when the government collapsed and settled in the Minneapolis area. In recent years struggle over the country has continued between an internationally recognized and supported central government and extremist groups - most notably al Shabaab. This struggle led to an influx of foreign troops from Ethiopia and other African countries to help the central government regain control of the capital Mogadishu and the rest of the country. Al Shabaab has rallied a good deal of support to fight the foreign influence of other African countries and U.S. support. The New York Times reports that al Shabaab has used the internet as a tool through which to recruit foreign fighters including those from the U.S. One of the men recruited by those indicted in this case is Shirwa Ahmed who became the first known American suicide bomber. The men here are charged under material support statutes as well as related conspiracy statutes.

National security implications here are clear. The indictments allege that these men attended al Shabaab training camps in Somalia where they were indoctrinated in anti-Americanism. While there are no allegations that these men were planning any attacks here in the U.S., it would not be too much of a stretch to believe that such plans could easily develop.

Here is the DoJ press release. Also: Omar indictment, Faarax-Isse indictment, other indictment.

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