[JURIST] The US Justice Department (DOJ) [official website] on Monday unsealed [press release, PDF] charging documents against eight defendants for recruiting for and providing financial support to the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab [JURIST news archive]. The defendants are being charged [Ahmed Omar et al. indictment, PDF; Mahamud Omar indictment, PDF; Faraax-Isse complaint, PDF] with recruiting approximately 20 individuals in the Minneapolis area on behalf of al-Shabaab, providing financial support for travel and weapons, and conspiring to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons outside the US. Discussing the charges, Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris [official profile] said:
The recruitment of young people from Minneapolis and other US communities to fight for extremists in Somalia has been the focus of intense investigation for many months. While the charges unsealed today underscore our progress to date, this investigation is ongoing. Those who sign up to fight or recruit for al-Shabaab's terror network should be aware that they may well end up as defendants in the US or casualties of the Somali conflict.The eight defendants are among 14 individuals charged so far in a larger investigation. On Tuesday, Omer Abdi Mohamed, who was arrested last week for supporting the terrorist activities, pleaded not guilty [AP report] during his arraignment.
Somalia is in disarray in the wake of ongoing internal unrest and is nominally under the control of a weak transitional government protected by international troops. The country has been a target of criticism for terrorism and corruption for many years. Earlier this month it ranked in the top five [JURIST report] of the world's most corrupt countries according to an index prepared by Transparency International (TI) [advocacy website].