First Charges Brought in Minnesota Somali Terrorism Probe

As many as 20 men have gone to and from Somalia, and may have been radicalized.

July 13, 2009, 7:28 PM

July 13, 2009— -- The FBI's ongoing investigation into Somali youths traveling from Minneapolis to Somali to aid terrorism has resulted in the first public criminal charges being unsealed Monday.

FBI agents from the Minneapolis field office arrested Salah Osman Ahmed on Saturday. He has been indicted for allegedly providing material support to terrorists, engaging in a conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, and injure individuals overseas and two counts of making false statements to the FBI.

According to the indictment, Ahmed allegedly made false statements to the FBI when he was questioned about his travels to Somalia with Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, who was also indicted. Ahmed allegedly told the FBI agents in July 2008 and December 2008 that he traveled to Somalia in December 2007 by himself. The indictment alleges that Ahmed "stated he did not know anyone on his flight to Somalia in December 2007, when in fact, he traveled to Somalia together with an individual he knew, so that they could fight jihad in Somalia."

Justice Department officials declined to comment on the whereabouts of Isse, but court records indicted he is in confinement. According to the court docket the indictment was returned in February but remained sealed until Monday.

Paul Engh, a lawyer for Isse, could not be reached for comment by ABC News. Isse was indicted on material support charges and the conspiracy charges to kill, kidnap main and injure. According to court records prosecutors and FBI agents used secret wiretaps in Isse's case.

An attorney for Ahmed could not be located.

Ahmed appeared before a federal magistrate Monday and is expected to have a detention hearing Thursday at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis.

The cases of young Somali-Americans going back to Somalia to fight with the designated terrorist group Al Shabab have received increased attention from the FBI and DHS officials over the past year after Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen, killed himself in an Oct. 28, 2008 suicide bombing in Somalia.

Many Men Believed to Be Going Back and Forth to Somalia

In February FBI Director Mueller said about Ahmed, "We believe he was recruited here in the United States and that others may have been radicalized."

According to law enforcement and U.S. intelligence officials as many as 20 young Somali men have traveled from the United States to Somalia, causing concern both among security officials and members of Somali communities. A handful of the men have also returned to the United States after being in Somalia for several months.

Some U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials worry that Al Shabab could merge with Al Qaeda as has happened with other regional terrorist groups around the globe. Somalia which has been wracked by years of violence between Al Shabab and transitional governments, which has resulted in thousands being killed.

U.S. officials say that some extremists are drawn to the lawless area to establish Sharia or Islamic law. Some believe that propaganda on the Internet by the terrorist group has played an influence in causing the men to leave the U.S. to end up in one of the most violent places on Earth.

Fighting in the region has increased in recent days with gun battles in the capitol of Mogadishu. There have been unconfirmed reports that two Americans from the Minneapolis area had been killed recently.

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