A Somali man and his wife have been indicted in San Antonio for allegedly making false statements to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and Texas immigration officials.
A federal indictment filed last week charged Abdullahi Fidse and Deka Sheikh on two counts: conspiring to provide false information which would obstruct the asylum and removal proceeding of Fidse and conspiring to lie about Fidse's ties to terrorism.
Fidse was in U.S. custody at a Pearsall, Tex. detention center at the time of the indictment. Sheikh was arrested Thursday in Madison, Wis.
The couple does not face terrorism charges, but prosecutors allege that Fidse lied when he told FBI officials investigating his ties to terrorism that he had never made a statement in support of Osama bin Laden.
The indictment also states that an undercover source taped Fidse in 2009 claiming that he bought a $100,000 armed battle vehicle which was later destroyed during fighting. Fidse claimed that the voice in the recording was manipulated by the FBI to sound like his own.
The indictment does not specify who was involved in the fighting using the vehicle or where it took place.
Fidse "coached" his wife as to how to respond to immigration officials' questions during his immigration court hearings, the indictment states. The two rehearsed their responses, which they knew to be false, via phone. They even created hand signals to secretly communicate with each other during court testimony.
Following their rehearsed lines, the defendants each told authorities that Fidse fled Mogadishu, Somalia in 2008 after his father was killed by Islamist militants and that they had first met in Ethiopia.
But prosecutors say that Fidse's father was not killed by al-Qaida or any of its Somali franchises and that Fidse and Sheikh, who had known each other since childhood, eventually married and lived together for three years. Fidse was living in Nairobi, Kenya, not Somalia, at the time he claimed his father was killed, officials say.
The charges come one month after a San Antonio court sentenced a Somali man to 10 years in prison for making false statements to authorities. U.S. District Court Judge Xavier Rodriguez ruled that a terrorism enhancement be applied to Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane's sentence because he knowingly smuggled at least seven members of the al-Qaida linked Somali terrorist group Al-Ittihad Al-Islami (AIAI) into the United States.
Authorities told the San Antonio Express News that they couldn't comment on whether Fidse and Sheikh has been Dhakane's smuggling clients or if the cases are connected.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Roomberg, who successfully prosecuted the Dhakane case, is handling Fidse and Sheikh's case.
Fidse remains detained until his bail hearing scheduled for June 7th. A Wisconsin judge has ordered Shiekh to be moved to San Antonio to face the charges. They face up to 13 years in prison if convicted on both counts.