Al-Shabaab Terror Plots & Patsies

Title: Al Shabaab/Al Qaeda Terror Plot Uncovered
September 18, 2011
Somalia Report

Abstract: After the kidnapping of a British tourist in Kenya, Somalia Report sent teams to investigate the details, but instead uncovered an alleged master plan by the al-Shabaab insurgent group to disrupt Kenya's tourism industry and kidnap foreigners using their own foreign fighters, all planned by Al-Qaeda's Horn of Africa mastermind.

The British tourist, Mrs. Judith Tebbutt, kidnapped by Somali gunmen from a resort in Kenya, was taken to Kismayo by speed boat and later moved to Baidoa and today she allegedly arrived in Hiin Dawa'o, a town between Harardhere and Hobyo.

A Somalia Report investigation in Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle has unearthed a wider plan of terror directed against Kenya's tourism industry within the coastal region that was abruptly put on hold when the mastermind, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Al-Qaeda's point man in the Horn of Africa, was gunned in Mogadishu in June. His death forced the scouting team to abort the plan and return back to the coastal town of Marka for further orders.

This advance team within al-Shabaab was made up of only foreign fighters from Kenya and Tanzania selected for their knowledge of the area and are believed to have assisted in Mrs. Tebbutt's kidnapping to avenge Kenyan support for Somalia's government, which is battling the Islamic terror group.

Somalia Report sources indicate that the chairman of al-Shabaab in Kismayo, Sheikh Hassan Yaqub Ali who also serves as the (Amniyat) intelligence chief for the Juba regions, was given the mandate to come up with covert action against the coastal towns of Kenya by the high council of the group for consultations known as “Shura” following a meeting in Kismayo two months ago. The plan was reportedly to recruit both al-Shabaab combatants, former pirates, and relatives of some of the top officials within al-Shabaab to carry out the attacks.

Despite al-Shabaab's denial of being behind the kidnapping, this operation had the blessings and logistical support of the local administration on ground since nobody can undertake such action without the permission of al-Shabaab which controls the region.

The initial plan was to kidnap or kill as many tourists as possible but this was not to be since Mrs. Tebbutt and her husband, who was killed during the kidnapping, were the only guests at the resort. To compensate for their 'failure' by kidnapping only one foreigner, al-Shabaab fighters within the Amniyat or Al-Shabaab’s intelligence team (the dreaded al-Shabaab hit squad) were directed to kidnap more foreigners outside Somalia's border. To do this, they turned to the foreign Jihadists from Kenya and Tanzania who had been operating under Fazul.

To identify a secure location to keep their victims, the intelligence leadership sent advance teams to the towns of Jamame, Jilib and Bu’ale, specifically to the former World Vision compound in Bua'le town in Middle Juba region. The compound is currently used as a training, command and lodging base by al-Shabaab's high ranking officials, particularly foreign fighters. The final location has yet to be determined due to a disagreement between the kidnappers and the al-Shabaab point person about the next course of action.

All the top officials in the Juba regions were ordered to deny any knowledge of the kidnapping and halt any outgoing information by intimidating locals. By denying the kidnapping, al-Shabaab believes they successfully inflicted a blow to the Kenyan government and tourism industry without subjecting themselves the wrath of the international community.

Despite their tactic of denial, analysts believe this will only bring more military force against the militants which have already been targeted by drones in southern Somalia.

“Kidnapping foreigners like the British woman may finally cause more foreign military intervention into the Somalia’s rebel held areas if the radical Islamists cannot be stopped from jumping the Somalia border to neighboring nations,” Kismayo based Somali political Analyst Muse Dirir told Somalia Report (Somalia Report, 2011).

Former Army Soldier From Maryland, Craig Baxam, Charged With Trying To Aid Terrorist Group
January 9, 2012
Fox News DC

Abstract:  A Maryland man who converted to Islam shortly before leaving the U.S. Army and who found living an Islamic way of life in the United States oppressive has been charged with attempting to join a foreign terrorist organization in Somalia, authorities said Monday.

Craig Baxam of Laurel was arrested Friday and charged with attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab by joining its ranks in Somalia.

LINK: Read Criminal Complaint

Baxam, 24, wore a long white tunic to his first appearance in court Monday. When asked by a judge if he understood the charge against him, he said yes. Baxam faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. A hearing was set for Wednesday.

According to a court document, Baxam joined the Army in 2007 and attended eight months of advanced individual training for cryptology and intelligence. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., and served in Baghdad and Korea.

Though he previously had no religious affiliation, he began reading about Islam on a website less than two weeks before leaving the Army in July 2011, according to the document. The document says Baxam kept his conversion a secret, but his roommate figured it out because he saw Baxam's prayer rug and books.

After leaving the Army, Baxam is said to have spent time reading and praying, and he considered it his duty to go live in a place governed by Islamic law. He left the United States in December, flying out of Baltimore, and was arrested in Kenya, allegedly on his way to neighboring Somalia. Kenyan authorities suspected he was traveling to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. He was allegedly carrying with him between $600 and $700 he intended to give to al-Shabaab. Baxam was interviewed by FBI agents in Kenya and arrested on his return to Maryland.

When FBI agents interviewing him asked what he thought his role would be with al-Shabaab, he said "he would just be another body there." He also allegedly said he was "looking for dying with a gun in my hand."

He told FBI agents that living an Islamic way of life in the United States is oppressive, and that to live as a Muslim in the United States a person has to compromise. He said he finds the constant playing of music and display of pictures in the U.S. disrespectful.

Before leaving the U.S., Baxam allegedly destroyed his computer and threw it in the trash because he did not want to leave a record of his activities.

There is no allegation that anyone else either in the U.S. or abroad was involved in his decision to travel to Somalia.

Reached by telephone on Monday, Baxam's father declined to comment and said he was undergoing dialysis. The court document charging Baxam says he told officials that if he were released he would take care of his dying father and, if his father should die, he would then try to join al-Shabaab again.

Baxam's mother, an attorney, also attended his court hearing Monday but declined comment, as did John Chamble, a lawyer appointed for Baxam by the court (Fox News DC, 2012).

Title: Kenyan Terror Suspect Admits Possession Of Bombs
Date: September 17, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: A Kenyan man pleaded guilty Monday to possession of six bombs including four suicide vests and being a member of al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist extremist group allied to al-Qaida that has threatened terrorist attacks in Kenya.

Abdi Majid Yassin Mohammed, 26, also known as Ali Hussein, had no defense attorney with him as he entered a guilty plea before magistrate Lucy Nyambura on charges that he was caught engaging in an organized criminal activity by being a member of al-Shabab, which has been outlawed in Kenya. The U.S. designated Al- Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization in 2008.

Mohammed also admitted that he was in possession of the explosives, 12 grenades and 481 bullets but denied that he was in possession of four AK-47 rifles. His co-accused, Omar Abdi Ada, 24, also known as Salman Abdi, denied 10 charges against him including the weapons charges. The two suspects were unrepresented in court and spoke through interpreters. Ada is Somali.

Nyambura ordered Mohammed be taken for a psychiatric examination and be arraigned in court on Tuesday so that charges can read to him again.

The suspects were arrested Friday in a raid on a house in a residential area which police said disrupted the final stages of planning of a major terrorist attack. The house is in Eastleigh neighborhood in Nairobi where a large Somali community resides, earning it the name "little Mogadishu" — after Somalia's war-torn capital city.

After the raid police displayed suicide vests rigged with hundreds of metal ball bearings, two improvised explosive devices, also rigged with ball bearings, four AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition and 12 grenades. Police said the that the vests are similar to the type used in attacks in Uganda on crowds watching the soccer World Cup final on TV in July 2010, killing 76 people.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombings in Uganda, saying it was in retaliation for Uganda's participation in the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Al-Shabab has vowed to carry out terror attacks in Kenya after the country sent troops into Somalia in October to fight the militants.

Mohammed becomes the second Kenyan to admit being a member of the al-Shabab and taking part in terrorism. In October Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, also known as Mohammed Seif, was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in a grenade attack that killed one person.

During his arrest Oliacha, 28, was found with six guns, 13 grenades and hundreds of bullets in his house in a slum called Kayole in eastern Nairobi (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Prosecutors: Minn. Man Steered Recruits To Somalia
Date: October 2, 2012
Magic Valley Times

Abstract: Prosecutors say a Minnesota man facing federal terror charges directed young men and teens into the violence of the Somali civil war.

In opening statements Tuesday in Minneapolis, prosecutors portrayed Mahamud (mah-hah-MOOD') Said (sy-EED') Omar as being heavily involved in getting Somali men in Minneapolis _ some as young as 17 years _ to join the terror group al-Shabab in Somalia.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Kovats said three men who traveled to Somalia will testify about their experiences with Omar and al-Shabab.

Defense attorney Andrew Birrell said in his opening statement that the government isn't claiming that Omar ever spoke or acted against the United States (Magic Valley Times, 2012).

Title: Minnesota Man Convicted Of Helping Send Men To Somalia To Join Al-Qaida-Linked Group Al-Shabab
October 18, 2012
Fox News

A Minneapolis man accused of helping send young men through a terrorist pipeline from Minnesota to Somalia was convicted Thursday on all five terrorism-related charges he faced, including one that could land him in prison for life.

The jury returned its verdict against Mahamud Said Omar after deliberating for about eight hours over two days. Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis did not set a sentencing date.

Omar, 46, nodded quietly as an interpreter gave him the bad news. As he was being led from the courtroom, he held up his hands and smiled at his brothers and other supporters of his in the courtroom gallery.

One of his defense attorneys, Jon Hopeman, said outside of court afterward that Omar will appeal the verdict. He said he plans to scrutinize secretly recorded wiretaps of conversations involving Omar that weren't made available to the defense team.

Omar, a mosque janitor, was the first man to stand trial in the government's investigation into what it says was the recruitment of more than 20 men who have left Minnesota since 2007 to join al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated terrorist group linked to al-Qaida that's blamed for much of the violence that has plagued the East African country.

Prosecutors say Omar helped some recruits from Minnesota's Somali community, which is the largest in the U.S., buy plane tickets to Somalia, and gave others $1,000 to buy weapons while they were staying in an al-Shabab safe house.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty told jurors in closing arguments Wednesday that Omar moved the young men as "cannon fodder" through a pipeline to al-Shabab.

The FBI agent overseeing Omar's case, Kiann VanDenover, testified that at one point in questioning, Omar claimed to be a "team leader" for al-Shabab.

Omar has denied ever helping al-Shabab. His attorney, Andrew Birrell, portrayed him as a "frightened, little man" who has struggled to adapt to life in the U.S. and who lacks the skills and know-how to organize anything. Birrell says the government's case is based on the corrupt testimony of al-Shabab recruits who repeatedly lied and who testified only because their plea deals required it.

The trial testimony provided insights into the long-running investigation, including how the young men were recruited and what happened when they got to Somalia to join al-Shabab's fight against the fledgling U.N.-backed government in Somalia, which was backed by troops from neighboring Ethiopia, who were seen by some Somalis as an invading force.

Omar was one of 18 men charged in the Minnesota case. Seven have pleaded guilty, while others are presumed to be out of the country. At least six of the men who traveled to Somalia from Minnesota have died, and others are presumed dead, according to family members and the FBI (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Minnesota Trial Opens Window On Recruitment Of Men In US To Fight For Terror Group In Somalia
October 19, 2012
Fox News

The trial of a Minneapolis man convicted in a conspiracy to send young men from Minnesota to fight with al-Shabab in Somalia has provided the most information yet on the ongoing investigation into recruitment for the terror group.

Mahamud Said Omar was convicted Thursday on five terrorism-related counts, including one that could land him in prison for life.

Authorities say he provided money for al-Shabab weapons and helped some young recruits get plane tickets for Somalia.

From secret meetings to plans to travel in small groups to avoid detection, trial testimony provided insight into how the young men planned their routes to Somalia.

Authorities say more than 20 men have left Minnesota since 2007 to join the al-Qaida-linked group.

The investigation is ongoing (Fox News, 2012).

Title: San Diego Jury Convicts 4 Somali Immigrants Of Providing To Support To Terrorist Group
Date: February 22, 2013
Fox News

Abstract: A federal jury in San Diego on Friday convicted four Somali immigrants — including an imam from a local mosque — of conspiring to funnel money to a terrorist group in their native country.

After a three-week trial and three days of deliberations, the jury convicted the four men of conspiring to raise and send money to Somalia's al-Shabaab. The men coordinated fundraising efforts and sent nearly $9,000 to al-Shabaab between 2007 and 2008, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Department of State designated al-Shabaab a terrorist group in 2008, saying it was responsible for targeted civilian assassinations and bombings in Somalia. Federal prosecutors have since cracked down on the group's U.S. support with the arrests of some two dozen people.

Those convicted Friday include 40-year-old Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, who prosecutors said used his connections as a popular imam at a mosque in San Diego's City Heights neighborhood to raise money for the group.

The other defendants were two San Diego taxi drivers, 36-year-old Basaaly Saeed Moalin and 56-year-old Issa Doreh, and 37-year-old Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud of Anaheim, whose financial transfer business Shidaal Express was used to route the money, prosecutors said.

Government attorneys played tapes of telephone calls, many of them between Moalin and the late Aden Hashi Ayrow, who was among the top leaders of al-Shabaab until he was killed in missile strike in May 2008.

On the tapes, Ayrow can be heard telling Moalin it was "time to finance the jihad" and "you are running late with the stuff, send some and something will happen."

Ayrow encouraged Moalin on the tapes to use the imam to help gather money.

Defense attorneys attacked both the editing and the translation of the tapes, saying overzealous prosecutors made money raised for humanitarian purposes appear sinister.

"They see al-Shabaab everywhere," defense attorney Joshua Dratel said during closing arguments, according to the newspaper UT San Diego.

Moalin, Doreh and Mohamed Mohamud were convicted of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and several counts of conspiracy. Nasir Mohamud was convicted of conspiracy and money laundering.

Sentencing was scheduled for May 16.

In December, 26-year-old Nima Ali Yusuf became the first woman sentenced in the crackdown within the Somali community. Yusuf, who fled war-torn Somalia as a child, received eight years in prison for sending $1,450 to members of al-Shabaab.

Most of the 87,000 Somalis living in the United States have arrived through U.S.-sponsored refugee resettlement programs. The largest two U.S. Somali communities, and the sites of most of the arrests in the crackdown, are in San Diego and Minnesota (Fox News, 2013).

Title: Somali Man Pleads Guilty In NYC To Charges Of Supporting Terrorist Groups Including Al-Shabab
Date: March 25, 2013
Fox News

Abstract: A shadowy Somali citizen who was interrogated about his ties to international terrorism aboard an American U.S. warship nearly two years ago has pleaded guilty as part of a cooperation agreement, prosecutors said Monday.

Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame had been charged with providing material support to terrorist organizations, conspiring to teach and demonstrate the making of explosives and other charges. He entered the plea in December 2011 in a sealed proceeding in federal court in Manhattan.

Prosecutors didn't explain why they kept Warsame's plea secret until now. They called his case a breakthrough in how it uncovered new clues about al-Qaida in Yemen and its relationship with al-Shabab in Somalia, but provided few details.

"The capture of Ahmed Warsame and his lengthy interrogation for intelligence purposes, followed by his thorough questioning by law enforcement agents, was an intelligence watershed," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "The handling of Warsame represents a seamless orchestration by our military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies that significantly furthered our ability to find, fight and apprehend those who wish to do us harm."

Warsame, who's listed as in his mid-20s, could face a potential life term, but no sentencing date was set. His last appearance in open court was in September 2011, when he pleaded not guilty.

The plea cooperation agreement calls for Warsame to tell the FBI everything he knows about terror threats and, if necessary, testify for the government before grand juries and at trials. He and his family would get federal protection if his cooperation puts them in danger, the agreement says.

A defense attorney for Warsame declined to comment Monday.

The U.S. military captured Warsame in the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen on April 19, 2011. Law enforcement agents questioned him for more than two months until he was read him Miranda rights to remain silent. He waived them and spoke to law enforcement agents for several days before being sent to New York in July 2011, prosecutors said.

Warsame was not believed to be a senior member of either terrorist organization, but court documents say he fought with and helped train al-Shabab in 2009, then played a similar roll with al-Qaida in Yemen until 2011. That made him a potentially valuable intelligence asset, since he had unique access in both groups, authorities said.

Al-Shabab controlled much of south-central Somalia from 2006 to mid-2011, when the group was ousted by African Union troops. Since then al-Shabab has been on the run (Fox News, 2013).

Title: Denmark Court Convicts Brothers Of Terror Training In Somalia
Date: March 25, 2013
Fox News

Abstract: Two Danish brothers of Somali origin have been sentenced to six and three years in prison, respectively, for the older brother's participation in a training camp run by al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia.

They were the first convictions under a Danish law that makes it illegal to receive training from a terrorist group.

Danish news agency Ritzau said the men, who are aged 24 and 19 but were not named by the Aarhus court, immediately appealed Monday's ruling.

The court found the older brother guilty of receiving training to commit terrorist acts while attending a camp run by al-Shabab, an Islamist insurgent group linked to al-Qaida. The younger brother was convicted of assisting him by providing travel documents, Ritzau said.

Al-Shabab seeks to recruit new fighters from Somali communities overseas (Fox News, 2013).