Eritrean pleads guilty to aiding Al-Shabaab – in US court

An Eritrean man pleaded guilty in a US court last week to charges of financing al Shabaab and receiving military trainings, according to reports from several news outlets.

Here are the reports from Reuters and Bloomberg.


Al Shabaab Associate Admits To Supporting Terrorist Group

(Jun 14, 2012 – Bloomberg) An associate of the al Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia pleaded guilty in New York to providing material support to the group and receiving military training in 2009.

Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and faces as long as 10 years in prison, according to a statement today by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York. Ahmed, an Eritrean native who lived in Sweden before going to Somalia, was arrested in Nigeriain 2009 and transferred to the U.S. the following year.

“Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed traveled a long way from his home in Sweden to Somalia, where he took up the cause of al Shabaab, a deadly terrorist organization and sworn enemy of the United States and its people,” Bharara said in the statement.

While he was in Somalia, Ahmed contributed about 3,000 euro ($3,772.50) to al Shabaab and was trained to make and detonate bombs, according to prosecutors. Al Shabaab seeks to destabilize the Somali government and to drive foreign troops out of the country, according to the statement. The group has recruited foreign fighters, including from the U.S., prosecutors said.

Sean Maher, a lawyer for Ahmed, didn’t immediately return a call to his office for comment on the guilty plea.

The case is U.S. v. Ahmed, 10-131, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)


Suspected militant pleads guilty to aiding Somalia’s al Shabaab

(Jun 14, 2012 – Reuters) – An Eritrean man pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to illegally giving funds and receiving military training from the al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabaab.

Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, 38, was arrested in Nigeria in November 2009 and brought to Manhattan federal court to face U.S. terrorism charges in March 2010. He is an Eritrean national and a permanent resident of Sweden.

Ahmed on Wednesday pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization and one count of conspiracy to receive military-type training from a terrorist group. Both offenses took place in 2009.

Prosecutors, in a plea agreement with Ahmed, recommended Judge Kevin Castel sentence him to 10 years in prison.

"The government would prove that the defendant handed over an AK-47 to an al Shabaab commander as he was leaving Somalia," Manhattan federal prosecutor Benjamin Naftalis said at Wednesday’s plea hearing.

The U.S. government considers al Shabaab to be al Qaeda’s proxy in the failed Horn of Africa state. The U.S. State Department lists it as a foreign terrorist organization.

The 10-year prison term was significantly less than what Ahmed could have faced had he been convicted at trial on all five counts he faced. One of the counts, a gun possession charge, carried a mandatory minimum 30-year prison term.

In court papers last month, prosecutors said Ahmed had attended an Islamist militant training camp in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

In January 2009, prosecutors said, Ahmed traveled to Somalia from Sweden to join al Shabaab. He eventually spent six weeks in the militant group’s company and was later arrested by Nigerian authorities, the prosecutors said.

Defense lawyers for Ahmed at marathon court hearings in December sought to show that his arrest, detention and interrogation by Nigerian and U.S. authorities was improper.

In last month’s court papers, prosecutors also identified a person only as "CW-2," a cooperating witness against Ahmed. The witness was described as a former al Shabaab military commander who met Ahmed in Somalia.

The person fits the profile of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a suspected Somali militant who was captured in waters between Yemen and Somalia in April 2011. Warsame is in U.S. custody and is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The case is USA v Ahmed, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-131.


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