BROOKLYN (CN) – Three Somali men accused of offering support to the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group al-Shabaab can wear Western clothing during their upcoming criminal trial, a federal judge ruled.
Ali Yasin Ahmed, Madhi Hashi and Mohamed Yusuf are accused of conspiracy to provide material support to a known terrorist organization between 2008 and 2012. Their federal trial in Brooklyn begins May 18.
Recently, they asked to be allowed to wear suits and ties during their trial.
U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes ordered the Metropolitan Correctional Center and the U.S. Marshal Service to give Hashi four pairs of pants, two suit jackets, five collared shirts, one leather belt, five pairs of dress socks, two ties and two pairs of leather shoes.
Ahmed was given three slacks, five shirts, two ties, four pairs of socks, one pairs of shoes, one belt and a sweater.
Yusuf will get three slacks, four shirts, two ties, four pairs of socks, a pair of shoes, a belt, a sweater and a suit.
Ahmed, 30, and Yusuf, 28, were born in Somalia, then moved to Sweden. They left Sweden for Somalia by way of Kenya in December 2008 to fight with al-Shabaab in the war-torn country of Somalia.
Hashi, 26, grew up in Great Britain, and went to Somalia by way of the United Arab Emirates in 2009.
“Upon their respective arrivals in Somalia, the defendants joined with other muhajireen, with whom they fought and worked on behalf of al-Shabaab,” the government says.
Muhajireen are foreign fighters, recruited from Western countries to join the fight. The terrorist organization frequently recruited Westerners through the Internet and propaganda videos.
“Prominently featuring Westerners in al-Shabaab’s recruiting videos gave the organization an international face, assisting both in fund-raising and further recruiting,” the government says.
In 2008, Ahmed and Yusuf attended basic combat training at Buled Gadud, one of several camps created by al-Shabaab foreign fighter leader Saleh Nabhan.
Sometime in 2009, Ahmed and Yusuf were allegedly sent to fight alongside about 20 other “foreign fighters” from Minnesota to fight in Mogadishu.
Ahmed and Yusuf “regularly discharged” AK-47 machine guns during the “strategically important” battle in the Karan District of Mogadishu in the summer of 2009, prosecutors say.
That’s when Hashi arrived, but the battles in the Karan District were winding down.
“Nevertheless, like Ahmed and Yusuf, he regularly associated with other foreign fighters, including members of al-Shabaab’s martyrdom operation group,” the government says.
The three men were arrested in August 2012 while trying to travel to Yemen. They were extradited to New York three months later.
The federal government plans to introduce evidence of a “criminal conspiracy” that includes al-Shabaab’s “driving radical Islamic ideology and relationship to other terrorist organizations, combat tactics and strategies, methods for fund-raising, and leadership structure.”
“The circumstances that resulted in the emergence of al-Shabaab as a terrorist force were initially set into motion by the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre’s military dictatorship in 1991 following a series of local rebellions across Somalia,” court documents say.
Barre’s ouster was finalized by the United Somali Congress, under the leadership of Mohamed Farah Aidad, the government says.
The country then “devolved into civil war, with no functioning government,” despite efforts by the United Nations and the United States to restore order. The Somali Transitional Federal Government was then formed by other African countries in 2004.
Al-Shabaab emerged during that period of instability “with the express objective of establishing an Islamic state in Somalia where they would impose strict sharia law.”
The Arabic word sharia pertains to the moral and religious codes of Islam.
The group launched an insurgency to topple the TFG with “brutal tactics not used by other groups,” the government says.
Al-Shabaab “regularly” tried to assassinate the prime minister, the president, the deputy mayor of Mogadishu and other leaders. They also targeted journalists and foreign aid workers, according to court documents.
“Al-Shabaab fighters frequently beheaded” leaders on the battlefield, leaving heads on the chests of their enemies to “to instill fear in their adversaries,” the government says.
They also tried to pull off suicide bombing attacks to kill the TFG president, but his brother was killed instead. They also launched a suicide bombing at the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu, where at least 10 were killed.
The U.S. branded the group a terrorist organization in 2008.
The group’s spokesman, Mukhtar Robow, called the designation a “badge of honor,” and that the “jihad will be stronger and more harmful to our enemies,” according to the government.
“Allah willing, we will attack them, roam [through their ranks], cut off every path they will take, chase away those who follow them, and fight them as insects and wolves. [We] will give them a taste of the heat of flame, and throw them into hell,” Robow said.
The government says the group detonated a car bomb near a military base in 2008, killing one soldier and injuring several others. An al-Shabaab militant wearing an explosive belt hit another African Union military base in Somalia in 2009.
The group also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Christian church full of 200 worshipers.
On Dec. 3, 2009, the group bombed the Hotel Shamo in Mogadishu, killing 25, including three top Somali government ministers, and injuring 60.
The terrorist organization “aggressively and successfully” recruited Americans to serve as “foreign fighters” and muhajireen to fight with other al-Shabaab fighters by taking to Internet chat boards and distributing videos online.
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