Guilty Verdict for Al-Shabaab Supporter
by Abha Shankar • Oct 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm
A federal jury in Minneapolis found Mahamud Said Omar guilty on Friday of providing material support to al-Shabaab, a U.S.-designated Islamist terror group fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia.
Omar, a Somali national who was granted U.S. residency in 1994, gave money to young Somalis living in Minneapolis to travel to Somalia to train with, and fight for al-Shabaab. He was arrested in the Netherlands in November 2009 and extradited to the United States in August 2011.
The guilty verdict marked the culmination of a nearly two-week long trial that included testimony from former al-Shabaab recruits as well as the sister of American suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed. Ahmed was the first U.S. national to be killed in a suicide mission in Somalia on October 29, 2008.
Court records show Omar visited an al-Shabaab safe-house on a trip to Somalia and provided hundreds of dollars for the purchase of AK-47 rifles for use by Somali men traveling from Minneapolis to wage jihad alongside the al-Shabaab.
Omar's case was part of a broader federal investigation called "Operation Rhino" that looked into the disappearance of around 20 young Somali men from the Minneapolis area over the past five years, allegedly to join al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia. Approximately 18 people have been indicted under Operation Rhino.
"Today's conviction is the result of our collective efforts to hold accountable those involved in a deadly network that routed funds and fighters from the United States to the al-Shabaab terrorist organization," Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney for General for National Security said about the verdict in a Justice Department press release.