Thursday, August 05, 2010
Two Americans are under arrest and 12 other U.S. citizens have been charged with acts of terrorism that include providing money, personnel, and other material support to the Somali-based terrorist organization al Shabaab.
Results of an FBI-led global investigation were announced today at Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, where indictments were unsealed charging individuals in Minnesota, Alabama, and California. Twelve of the 14 under indictment are fugitives believed to be in Somalia.
About al Shabaab
On Feb. 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of State designated al Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization, describing it as a violent and brutal extremist group based in Somalia with a number of individuals affiliated with al Qaeda. This designation prohibits providing material support or resources to al Shabaab.
“These indictments and arrests,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, “shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to al Shabaab from cities across the United States.”
The government designated al Shabaab a terrorist organization in 2008. The group has ties to al Qaeda and has made numerous public statements threatening to harm the United States.
“Terrorist organizations such as al Shabaab continue to radicalize and recruit U.S. citizens and others to train and fight with them and to provide support for their violent activities,” said Sean Joyce, executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “Today’s charges and arrests give us all greater insight into the evolving nature of the terrorist threat we face.”
The two arrested today—women who were naturalized U.S. citizens and residents of Minnesota—have been charged with raising money to support al Shabaab through door-to-door solicitations and teleconferences in Somali communities in Minnesota and other locations in the U.S. and Canada. In some cases, funds were raised under the false pretense that they would be used to help the poor. The others indicted—mostly young men—were charged with leaving the U.S. to join al Shabaab.
The charges resulted from investigations coordinated by the FBI and the Department of Justice and that involved our law enforcement partners around the world. Our Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Minneapolis, Mobile, and San Diego played a particularly significant role, Joyce said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.
Recruitment by al Shabaab among the Somali-American community is a “disturbing phenomenon that we’ve been investigating intensely in recent years,” Holder said. He noted that in Minnesota alone, between September 2007 and October 2009, 20 or more young men traveled from Minneapolis to Somalia for al Shabaab training. Many of them ultimately fought for the Muslim extremist group against Ethiopian forces, African Union troops, and the transitional government there. At least one young man from Minneapolis went on to become the first known U.S. citizen suicide bomber.
“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.
“For those who would become terrorists, these cases send a strong message,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. “They underscore the need for continued vigilance against those who may seek to harm us and our way of life.” He added, “Our agents and analysts will continue to confront this threat with a strong and coordinated effort as we work to protect all Americans.”