As the jury in the trial of two naturalized US citizens of Somalian heritage accused of supporting terrorists abroad continue with their deliberations, supporters in downtown Minneapolis decry the charges and the surveillance methods of FBI agents used in their investigation of Amina Farah Ali, 35, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 64.
COMMENT: Ali, 35, is charged with conspiracy and providing material support to a known foreign terrorist organization for allegedly funneling money to Al-Shabaab. The group is fighting the transitional federal government for control of Somalia. The US State Department designated Al-Shabab as a terrorist group in February 2008. Hassan, 64, is charged with conspiracy and with allegedly lying to FBI agents during their investigation.
Prosecutors allege that Ali and Hassan raised money for Al-Shabaab, by going door to door to solicit donations for the poor and needy, and also by hosting fund-raising teleconferences. At the heart of the government's case are audio recordings from 10 months when the FBI tapped Ali's phones. On Monday, during closing arguments, the prosecution charged that Ali and Hassan were plugged in to the events in Somalia and knew full well that Al-Shabaab is considered a foreign terrorist organization. The jury is to continue deliberating Tuesday.
Coincidentally, Kenyan security forces in recent days have entered some 75 miles inside Somalia for the purpose of neutralizing al-Shabaab and pirate camps believed to be linked to the recent kidnappings of two Spaniards, a Briton and a Frenchwoman who have been taken to Somalia.
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM), more widely known as al-Shabaab, is a terrorist group of militants fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia. As of 2011, the group controls large swathes of the southern parts of Somalia, where it is said to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia law. Al-Shabaab's troop strength as of May 2011 is estimated at 14,426 militants. The group is also known to have links with al-Qaeda.