Report: Somali terror suspect had US residency

AP News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2009 8:40 AM

A Somali man suspected of recruiting youth in Minneapolis for Islamic terrorism in Somalia has a U.S. green card, Dutch media reported Friday.

Mohamud Said Omar, 43, was arrested last weekend at the request of U.S. authorities in an asylum seeker's center in Dronten, Netherlands, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Amsterdam.

According to Dutch prosecutors, U.S. authorities suspect Omar of bankrolling the purchase of weapons for Islamic extremists and helping other Somalis travel to Somalia in 2007 and 2008. They have requested his extradition.

FBI officials in Minneapolis have confirmed that the arrest of the suspect detained in the Netherlands is related to an investigation into the departure of more than a dozen young men to Somalia, including one who carried out a suicide attack there in October 2008.

Omar's Dutch attorney, Audrey Kessels, told the daily newspaper De Volkskrant that given Omar's U.S. green card, he was ineligible for asylum in the Netherlands and his request was quickly rejected.

However, she had appealed the decision on the basis of illness. Omar had told her he couldn't find work in America and "didn't have any peace in his head."

"He didn't make a healthy impression," she said.

Kessels, who represented Omar when he applied for asylum in December 2008, was unavailable for further comment Friday, her law firm said.

She told the paper that Omar's filing for asylum would have alerted authorities to his presence.

Omar also told Kessels he had traveled to Somalia, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates in early 2008.

As many as 20 young Somali men left the Minneapolis area over the last two years to go to Somalia and possibly fight with terror groups. At least three have died, including the one who carried out the suicide bombing in the semiautonomous Puntland region.

Three others have pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis to terror-related charges. A fourth man has pleaded guilty to perjury, and a fifth has pleaded not guilty to lying to the FBI.

Omar is being held for 60 days after an initial appearance in a closed session in Rotterdam court. His extradition could take up to a year to complete if he contests it.