Friday, May 17, 2013
Minnesota: A federal court has sentenced two Muslim women to lengthy prison sentences for soliciting donations in the name of charity, then funneling the funds to Somali Islamic militants
The two Muslim women went door-to-door in Somali neighborhoods in the United States and Canada, seeking contributions. Amina Farah Ali, 36, got two decades in prison on 13 terror-related counts that include providing material support to Al-Shabaab. Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 66, got half of that on one count of conspiracy to support a terror group and lying to authorities. Both women, naturalized U.S. citizens from Somalia, were convicted in October 2011. They have now been sentenced in Minneapolis. Evidence presented at their trial showed that they supported the Islamic terror group between 2008 and 2009, according to B. Todd Jones, a United States Attorney. "Ali communicated by telephone with Somalia-based members of Al-Shabaab who requested financial assistance on behalf of the group," Jones said in a statement. "Ali often sought the money under false pretenses, contending that it was to help the poor." In both years, she hosted teleconferences and urged listeners to give money to the terror group instead of the poor. In one instance, she recorded $2,100 in pledges at the conclusion of that teleconference. She would then funnel the funds to the Islamic terror group using various remittance companies under false names. Ali has maintained that the funds were for the poor, but monitored phone calls reveal otherwise. "On July 14, 2009, the day after the FBI executed a search warrant at Ali's home, she telephoned her primary Al-Shabaab contact, saying, "I was questioned by the enemy here . . . they took all my stuff and are investigating it . . . do not accept calls from anyone." Hassan, on the other hand, made false statements when questioned by federal agents about international terrorism. The sentencing is the latest in federal investigation in Minneapolis - home to the nation's largest Somali population. The Muslim women were among a group sentenced recently in the federal government's probe focusing on Al-Shabaab, which recruits young men in the Minneapolis area. The United States has designated it a terrorist group, pointing out that it has ties to al Qaeda. In recent years, about 20 Somali-American men have traveled from the area to Somalia to train with the Islamic terror group, and some have gone on to fight with the militants.