Terror-Support Charges Lead to Three Arrests
WASHINGTON (CN) - Federal authorities arrested three women, two residents of the United States, Wednesday on charges of transferring money to al-Shabaab insurgency in Somalia.
Officially called the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, al-Shabaab is a terrorist group conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia, according to a statement by the Justice Department.
The U.S. government designated al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization in 2008, and the leaders of al-Shabaab and the terrorist group al-Qaida publicly announced the merger of the two groups in February 2012.
Federal prosecutors waited until after Wednesday's arrests to unseal the supporting indictment, issued on June 26 by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The indictment charges Muna Osman Jama, 34; Hinda Osman Dhirane, 44; Farhia Hassan; Fardowsa Jama Mohamed; and Barira Hassan Abdullahi with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and 20 counts of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Jama was arrested at her home in Reston, Va.; Dhirane was arrested at her home in Kent, Wash.; and Hassan was arrested at her residence in the Netherlands.
Mohamed remains a fugitive in Kenya, and Abdullahi is a fugitive in Somalia.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on each count in the indictment.
The Justice Department described Jama and Dhirane as "the leaders of an al-Shabaab fundraising conspiracy operating in the United States, Kenya, the Netherlands, Somalia and elsewhere."
"Jama and Dhirane allegedly directed a network composed primarily of women who provided monthly payments that were coordinated, facilitated and tracked by the defendants to their conduits in Kenya and Somalia," the statement continues. "According to court records, Jama was principally responsible for sending money to Kenya through her conduit, defendant Fardowsa Jama Mohamed, while Dhirane was primarily responsible for sending money to Somalia through her conduit, defendant Barira Hassan Abdullahi.
"According to court records, the defendants would refer to the money they sent overseas as 'living expenses,' and they repeatedly used code words such as 'orphans' and 'brothers in the mountains' to refer to al-Shabaab fighters, and 'camels' to refer to trucks needed by al-Shabaab. The money transfers often were broken down into small amounts as low as $50 or $100, and the funds were intended for use by al-Shabaab insurgents operating in Somalia."