A federal judge in San Diego sentenced three Somali immigrants for providing financial and logistical support to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. Basaaly Saeed Moalin, a cab driver, Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, an imam at a local mosque patronized by the Somali immigrant community, and Issa Doreh, who worked in a money transmitting business known as a hawala, received prison sentences ranging from 10-18 years.
Evidence presented during a three-week trial that ended in February showed the defendants conspired to transfer funds from San Diego to Somalia through a now-defunct hawala called the Shidaal Express.
"These men willfully sent money to a terrorist organization, knowing al Shabaab's extremely violent methods and knowing the U.S. had designated it as a foreign terrorist organization," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a Justice Department press release. "Months of intercepted phone conversations included discussion of suicide bombing, assassinations, and jihad."
Prosecutors played dozens of intercepted phone calls during trial. In one, a prominent al-Shabaab leader, Aden Hashi Ayrow, appealed to Moalin to send money to the terrorist group, saying it was "time to finance the jihad." Ayrow also told Moalin, "You are running late with the stuff. Send some and something will happen."
Ayrow was killed in a missile strike on May 1, 2008.
Moalin received the longest sentence because of his close collaboration with al-Shabaab and Ayrow. Moalin even offered his house in Mogadishu to enable al-Shabaab to hide weapons and aid its broader terrorist agenda. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller described this act as "an offense of a different magnitude" and said it "went beyond financial support and entered a different realm." Moalin's significant standing in the immigrant Somali community and his philanthropic efforts as a naturalized American were "substantially offset" by his close dealings with al-Shabaab and Ayrow, Miller said.
Ahmed Nasiri Taalil Mohamud, a cab driver from Anaheim who also conspired to transfer money to al-Shabaab, is scheduled to be sentenced in January.