A federal jury found two Minnesota women guilty Thursday of funneling money to the al-Qaida affiliated al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia.
Evidence presented at trial showed Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, both naturalized U.S. citizens from Somalia, sent more than $8,600 to al-Shabaab fighters between September 2008 and July 2009.
Ali, Hassan, and others solicited money from Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and other cities in the United States and Canada, a Justice Department press release said.
In addition to door-to-door solicitation, the defendants sponsored teleconferences that featured speakers encouraging donations in support of al-Shabaab. The funds were then transferred to al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab was designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government in February 2008. The terrorist group has been engaged in a bloody battle against Somalia's pro-Western government forces and African Union peacekeepers for the past four years.
Ali and Hassan are among 20 people charged in Minnesota as part of a wide-ranging federal investigation into the domestic recruiting and financing for al-Shabaab. More than 20 young men of Somali origin are believed to have left Minnesota to join hands with the terrorists in Somalia since late 2007.
In October 2008, Ali sponsored a teleconference in which an unindicted co-conspirator called on listeners to give to the mujahidin (holy warriors) in Somalia. At another conference in February 2009, Ali told listeners to concentrate on "the jihad" and "forget about the other charities."
Following an FBI raid on her home in July 2009, Ali alerted her al-Shabaab handler not to call her.
"I was questioned by the enemy here….they took all my stuff and are investigating it…do not accept calls from anyone," the DOJ press release quoted Ali saying.
Both Ali and Hassan were convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Shabaab. In addition, Ali was convicted on twelve counts of providing material support to al-Shabaab and Hassan was convicted on two counts of making false statements to authorities. The conspiracy counts each carry 15 year prison sentences.
"I am very happy," Ali reportedly told the judge through an interpreter following the verdict. She further rebuked individuals accusing her of criminal behavior, saying "You will go to hell."