WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2010 — The Justice Department announced charges today against 14 people in three U.S. states with ties to an al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, just as a new State Department report highlighted concerns about al-Qaida’s inroads across Africa.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the department unsealed four separate indictments charging people in Minnesota, Alabama and California with providing money, personnel and services to al-Shabaab, a terrorist group operating in Somalia with ties to al-Qaida.
Among them were Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, arrested today in Minnesota for providing funds to al-Shabaab, Holder said during a news conference. Most of the other defendants already are in custody, he reported.
“These indictments and arrests … shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to al-Shabaab from cities across the United States,” Holder said during a news conference.
“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,” Holder said. “It’s a disturbing trend that we have been intensely investigating.”
As those investigations continue, Holder said, today’s events provide “an unmistakable warning” to anyone considering joining or supporting terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab. “If you choose this route, you can expect to find yourself in a U.S. jail or a casualty on the battlefield in Somalia,” he said.
Today’s announcement came as the State Department released a report to Congress highlighting concerns about al-Qaida’s growing foothold in Africa.
Al-Shabaab’s leadership supports al-Qaida, the report concluded, with both groups presenting “a serious terrorist threat to America and allied interests throughout the Horn of Africa.”
Ongoing fighting between al-Shabaab, the Somalia Islamic insurgent group Hizbul Islam, and other factions and militias and Somalia’s transitional federal government have left Somalia “highly unstable,” the report said. As a result, Somalia provides “a permissive environment for terrorist transit and training,” it said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)