Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


2 women sentenced in Somali terror case

17 May 2013, 13:19

Minneapolis - Two women convicted of conspiring to send money to al-Shabab in Somalia were given prison sentences in federal court Thursday, ending a week of punishments tied to long-running investigations into recruiting and financing for the terrorist group.

Amina Farah Ali, 36, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 13 terrorism-related counts, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 66, received a 10-year term on one terror-related count and two counts of lying to the FBI.

Ali insisted during her 3½-hour hearing in US District Court in Minneapolis that she was only trying to help the poor in her war-torn homeland.

"Everything that I have done, I have done because I was trying to do good," Ali said. "My intention was to alleviate the suffering of people."

But prosecutors have said Ali and Hassan were part of a "deadly pipeline" that sent funds and fighters to al-Shabaab. Authorities said they went door-to-door in the name of charity and held religious teleconferences to solicit donations, which they then routed to the fighters.

Defence attorneys painted the women as humanitarians who gave money to orphans and the poor, as well as to a group fighting to rid Somalia of foreign troops. At the time, Ethiopian troops brought into Somalia by its weak UN-backed government were viewed by many Somalis as invaders.

Ali's attorney, Dan Scott, told the court Ali learned that she needed to work with those in power if her money was going to reach its destination.

"This was not a choice between good and evil. This was a choice between evils," the lawyer said.

He added: "It's not terrorism. She backed the wrong horse."

Key evidence

Chief US District Judge Michael Davis asked Ali whether her donors knew the money was going to al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked group that has been at the heart of much of the violence in Somalia in recent years.

"I did not send the money to al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab was a vehicle used to get the money to the needy. It was not used for their own purposes," Ali said.

Hassan also spoke to Davis and apologised for her crimes, saying she accepted responsibility. She said she supported al-Shabaab’s efforts to rid Somalia of the Ethiopians, but once Ethiopian troops were gone, she disagreed with the violence.

"It's clear she was a cheerleader for al-Shabaab at one point in time," her attorney, Randy Daar, said. "I think that has changed."

Assistant US Attorney Jeff Paulsen disagreed. "She supported al-Shabaab to the bitter end," he said.

Both defence attorneys were disappointed. Daar said he anticipated an appeal and Scott planned to recommend an appeal, saying "there's no excuse for that sentence."

Ali and Hassan were among nine people sentenced this week for their roles in the federal government's long-running investigations into terrorism recruiting and financing for al-Shabaab.

Since 2007, at least 22 young men have left Minnesota in small groups to join the group — a phenomenon that has been called one of the largest efforts to recruit US fighters for a foreign terrorist organisation.

In the women's case, authorities said they conspired to funnel more than $8 600 to al-Shabaab from September 2008 through July 2009 — after al-Shabaab was declared a terrorist group.

The government's key evidence included hundreds of hours of recorded phone calls, obtained from a wiretap on Ali's telephones. In one call, Ali told others to "forget about the other charities" and focus on "the jihad." In another, she said, "Let the civilians die."


In court papers filed before the hearings, prosecutors wrote that a significant sentence would warn others, "lest they believe that similar grass roots fund raising on behalf of a designated terrorist organization is a viable avenue to bringing stability and humanitarian relief to Somalia."

Some members of Minnesota's Somali community — the largest in the US — were shocked by the sentences.

"What happened here is injustice. It's unacceptable," said Abdikali Warsame, of St Paul.

"Whatever they did, they did to aid the poor, needy, vulnerable and others," said Hassan Mohamud, the imam at Minnesota Da'Wah Institute in St Paul.

In addition to the women's case, 18 men have been charged in the government's investigation into terrorism recruiting and the travels of young men who went to Somalia to fight.

Seven of those men were sentenced this week, receiving prison terms ranging from two to 20 years. Another man was sentenced in 2010 to four months in prison and four months of home confinement for obstruction of justice.

The rest of those who face charges are either at large, dead or presumed dead.

The FBI says the investigation is ongoing.


- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Kenya says will return to interna...

Kenya will return to international markets to borrow when it feels the time is right, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said on Tuesday. Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
China to help Kenya fight high le...

China observed that if left unchecked, corruption could see the country degenerate into lawlessness. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Signs that he is seeing someone e...

When a man wants to be with you, he will always create time to be with you. Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
Spat between DP Ruto and Boniface...

A close associate of the DP, Hon Njogu Barua made an alarming comment on live TV Tuesday morning. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Matatu driver who drugged, robbed...

The driver of a Nissan matatu who over the weekend drugged and robbed a female passenger in Nairobi has been charged. Read more...

Submitted by
Gabriel Ngallah
Heavy police contingent deployed ...

More police officers were on Monday deployed at Likoni in Mombasa County in a security operation to nab members of the ‘Wakali Kwanza’ and ‘Mtalia’ criminal gangs who have been terrorizing locals in the area. Read more...