Somalia the new hotbed for terrorist groups
In a statement that came as no surprise to U.S. security and law enforcement experts in January 2010, the Somali-based Muslim terrorist group Al-Shabaab announced that its fighters are aligned with al-Qaeda's global terrorism campaign. While the U.S. continues to battle the Taliban and remnants of al-Qaeda, Somalia has morphed into a haven for terrorist groups and their training camps.
Over the weekend, U.S. law enforcement nailed a Somali national after he attempted to blow up an improvised explosive device at a Christmas tree lighting celebration at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon.
FBI agents and Portland cops thwarted the teenager's plot to blow up a van full of explosives at a crowded venue. According to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police's Terrorism Committee, the Somali teen's IED was a fake device supplied by undercover agents and civilians were never in danger.
The terror suspect, 19-year old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, was captured on late Friday afternoon after dialing a cellular phone he believed would detonate a large explosion at the Christmas ceremony. At that point, FBI agents and local police officers swarmed the suspect.
The FBI report that described the counterterrorism investigation reveals that the suspect plotted the attack for months, going as far as mailing bomb components to FBI undercover agents who told Mohamud they would build a deadly explosive device for him to use in his terror plot.
In their report, FBI agents stated that the Somali teenager was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out, but he told agents: "Since I was 15 I thought about all this;" and "It's gonna be a fireworks show ... a spectacular show."
U.S. authorities charged the naturalized citizen with attempted use of a WMD (weapon of mass destruction). He will appear before a federal judge for arraignment on Monday morning.
This case involving a Somali national is but one of a series of terrorism cases.
SAN DIEGO JIHAD
San Diego residents Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, aka Mohamed Khadar, and Issa Doreh were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, and related offenses.
The indictment, handed up on October 22, 2010, alleges that Moalin, Mohamud, and Doreh conspired to provide money to al Shabaab, a violent and brutal terrorist group based in Somalia. In February 2008, the Department of State designated al Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization. The indictment alleges that al Shabaab has used assassinations, improvised explosive devices, rockets, mortars, automatic weapons, suicide bombings, and other tactics of intimidation and violence to undermine Somalia's transitional federal government and its supporters. In addition, al Shabaab is associated with the al-Qaeda group in Somalia.
The indictment further alleges that, in late 2007 and early 2008, Moalin was in direct telephone contact with Aden Hashi Ayrow, who was a prominent military leader of al Shabaab. Ayrow requested money from Moalin, who then coordinated the fundraising efforts and money transfers with Mohamud and Doreh.
According to the indictment, Moalin also provided a house in Somalia, knowing the house would be used in preparation for, and to carry out, a conspiracy to kill persons in a foreign country. The indictment alleges that after Ayrow's death on May 1, 2008, the conspirators continued to transfer money from San Diego to Somalia to fund terrorist activities.
With the assistance of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, special agents of the FBI arrested Moalin on Oct. 31, 2010, at San Diego International Airport, shortly before Moalin was scheduled to board a flight. On November 1, 2010, agents arrested Mohamud and Doreh, also in San Diego.
According to U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, the arrests arose from a lengthy investigation by the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force.
OTHER SOMALI ARRESTS
St. Louis, Missouri resident Mohamud Abdi Yusuf was indicted and arrested on four charges of providing material support to a designated terrorist organization and one charge of conspiracy to structure financial transactions. In addition, Minneapolis, Minnesota resident Abdi Mahdi Hussein was indicted and arrested on a charge of conspiracy to structure financial transactions.
According to the indictment returned on Oct. 21, 2010, from February 2008 through at least July 2009, Yusuf and a third defendant, Duwayne Mohamed Diriye, a resident of Kenya and Somalia, were involved in a conspiracy to provide funds to al Shabaab, which was designated by the U.S. Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization in February 2008.
The indictment alleges that Yusuf sent funds to al Shabaab supporters in Somalia, including Diriye, from licensed money remitting businesses operating in the United States, in part by using fictitious names and telephone numbers to conceal the nature of their activities. Yusuf is also charged with conspiring with Abdi Mahdi Hussein, an employee of a licensed money remitting business, to structure financial transactions to avoid record keeping requirements.
Al Shabaab, which loosely translates to "The Youth," operates as a terrorist organization based in Somalia whose objective is the violent overthrow of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the ouster of African Union support, and the imposition of Shariah law in Somalia. Until his death in May 2008, Aden Hashi Ayrow was the principal military leader and commander of al Shabaab.