American charged over aid to Somali militants

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2011 4:48 PM
American charged over aid to Somali militants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 26-year-old American was arrested on Thursday on charges that he tried to help Somali al-Shabaab rebels, the latest American accused of trying to aid the militant group, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Ahmed Mahamud, who previously lived in Minnesota, was charged with four counts including conspiracy to provide material support and providing material support to al-Shabaab, which the government has designated a terrorist group, according to the unsealed indictment.

He was accused of trying to provide money and people to help the militant group in its fight against the Ethiopian military, though the four-page indictment did not offer more details about his activities.

Mahamud was arrested in Ohio and is expected to be sent to Minnesota to face the indictment, the Justice Department said. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Already 18 people have been charged in Minnesota during a three-year U.S. investigation into efforts to recruit Americans to train or fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia. Eight have been arrested, five of whom have pleaded guilty.

Two of the group charged in U.S. courts are believed to have been killed in Somalia. U.S. officials have expressed concerns that the country could also provide a safe haven for al Qaeda militants.

Al-Shabaab rebels controls wide swaths of the African country, including parts of the capital, fighting the West-backed government. They claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Uganda last year that killed 79 people.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Vicki Allen)