Woman guilty of perjury in Shabaab case
30 August 2013, 12:35
Minneapolis - A 23-year-old woman said on Thursday that she
lied to a grand jury investigating the long-running case of young men who left
Minnesota to join a terrorist group in Somalia.
Saynab Hussein pleaded guilty in US District Court to one
count of perjury. She admitted that in June 2009 she lied when she told a grand
jury she did not know anyone who raised money for the travellers, when she
actually helped raise money herself.
Hussein, who is pregnant and studying nursing at college,
faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A sentencing date has not
On Wednesday, Hussein became the 21st person to be charged
in the government's investigation into efforts to recruit fighters and raise
money for al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked group at the heart of much of the
violence in Somalia in recent years.
Since late 2007, at least 22 young men have left Minnesota
to join the terrorist group, which at the time was fighting Ethiopians who were
assisting Somalia's former government.
Some of the men have died, some remain at large, and others
were among those prosecuted in what the FBI has said is one of the largest
efforts to recruit US fighters to a foreign terrorist organization.
The investigation began in the fall of 2008. That October, Shirwa
Ahmed detonated a suicide bomb in Somalia. Authorities said he was the first
known US citizen to carry out a suicide bombing, and they believed he was
radicalized in Minnesota.
Naive and terrified
The following month, the case became public when families of
some of the travellers came forward to say their sons were missing.
Hussein, a permanent resident of the US, was among several
people called to testify before a grand jury in the months that followed.
Prosecutors have said in the cases of other defendants that the investigation
was fast-moving at the time, as authorities were trying to make sense of what
was going on and stop other men from leaving Minnesota.
Hussein, who has permanent resident status in the US,
remained free on bond Thursday.
Her attorney, John Lundquist, said in a statement that
Hussein was 19 years old when she appeared before the grand jury.
"Telling an untruth is totally out of character for
her, but she was young, naïve and terrified. She made a mistake and deeply
regrets it," he said.