By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) - A Kenyan man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday by a judge in Miami after pleading guilty to funneling $11,600 dollars to U.S.-designated terrorist organizations in Africa and the Middle East.
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro sentenced Mohamed Hussain Said, 27, for conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda, al Qaeda in Iraq/Nusra Front, and al Shabaab.
Said was arrested along with Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed, a 31-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in India, in Saudi Arabia in August 2013 and turned over to U.S. authorities.
A 15-count indictment alleged they used online chatrooms popular with Islamic extremists to help fund and recruit fighters for Nusra Front, which is fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria.
The pair sent money using Western Union wire transfers to Nusra and al Shabaab, a militant group fighting to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on Somalia, according to the indictment.
“Said also offered to make available potential martyrs for ambitious al Qaeda-style attacks against United States interests,” prosecutors wrote in court filings.
Said pleaded guilty in May to one charge of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Said’s lawyers argued for a reduced sentence of eight years rather than the maximum 15, claiming he never took part in a plan to attack the United States.
Prosecutors said Said’s two-year relationship with an undercover investigator posing as a formerly imprisoned al Qaeda fighter revealed him to be a dangerous fundraiser, recruiter, and facilitator for the militant network.
His co-conspirator Mohammed was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 years of supervised released in November after pleading guilty to the same charge in July 2014.
The case was prosecuted in Miami in the Southern District of Florida because some of the wire transfers were sent to a Florida-based undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Editing by David Adams and Mohammd Zargham)