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Justice Dept.: 14 charged with aiding radical Somali group

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Posted on August 5 2010 6:15 pm
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by William Branigin

At least half of the defendants are U.S. citizens, the Justice Department said. Two were arrested Thursday, and the others are fugitives and believed to be overseas, it said.

In announcing the indictments, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the charges reflect a disturbing trend in which al-Shabab, which has links to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network, has appealed to U.S. citizens of Somali descent to join the group’s battle against a weak U.S.-backed transitional government and African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia.

Holder said there was no direct evidence that al-Shabab is threatening the United States, although a terrorist attack last month in Uganda “gives us pause.” Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, in which at least 74 civilians were killed in coordinated bombings at two locations in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, where crowds were watching the World Cup soccer final. Among the victims was an American aid worker from Delaware.

The four indictments unsealed Thursday accuse the 14 individuals with providing money, personnel and services to al-Shabab.

Among those charged were Omar Shafik Hammami, 26, a former resident of Daphne, Ala., and Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 28, a former resident of San Diego. Both are U.S. citizens who are believed to be at large in Somalia.

In a news conference, Holder said Hammami “has assumed an operational role” in al-Shabab and has made recruitment videos that have aroused concern at the FBI and in the Somali community in the United States.

The effort to recruit Somali Americans for al-Shabab targets young men “at difficult points in their lives,” a U.S. official said.

Read More at The Washington Post

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