Defendants were Members of Foreign Fighter Corps
Earlier today, Madhi Hashi, Ali Yasin Ahmed and Mohamed Yusuf pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Today’s plea took place before United States District Judge John Gleeson. At sentencing, each of the defendants faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and automatic removal from the United States.
The guilty pleas were announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
As stated in court today and according to court documents, between approximately December 2008 and August 2012, the defendants served as members of al-Shabaab in Somalia, where they agreed with others to support al-Shabaab and its extremist agenda. In early August 2012, the defendants were apprehended in East Africa by local authorities while on their way to Yemen. On November 14, 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation took custody of the defendants and brought them to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution.
“The defendants were committed supporters of al-Shabaab, a violent terrorist organization that has demonstrated its capabilities and motives in numerous terrorist attacks overseas, and has publicly called for attacks against the United States,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie. “We will use every tool at our disposal to combat terrorist groups, deter terrorist activity, and incapacitate individual terrorists around the world. Today’s convictions demonstrate that criminal prosecution is an effective tool in our efforts to combat international terrorism.”
“Hashi, Ahmed and Yusuf all pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Shabaab,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division remains committed to identifying, disrupting and holding accountable all who seek to provide material support to terrorists both at home and abroad. I would like to thank all of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this case.”
During the time of the charged conspiracy (and thereafter), al-Shabaab successfully recruited individuals from around the world, like the defendants, to come to Somalia and join the organization. These individuals, known within al-Shabaab as “foreign fighters” and muhajireen, lived, trained, and often fought separately from, but in coordination with, other al-Shabaab fighters. They were also especially valuable to al-Shabaab for several reasons.
For example, al-Shabaab frequently made Western foreign fighters the face of its fund-raising and propaganda efforts as part of a broader strategy of emphasizing that the conflict in Somalia was part of a global jihad aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate.
Indeed, one of the defendants, Mohamed Yusuf, is featured in an al-Shabaab propaganda video in which he encouraged young men to travel to Somalia and join al-Shabaab and threatened a cartoonist who had depicted the prophet Mohammad. In addition, Yusuf and defendant Ali Yasin Ahmed fought in battles in Somalia against African Union forces. Defendant Madhi Hashi was a close associate of American-born al-Shabaab leader Omar Hammami.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined Acting U.S. Attorney Currie in thanking the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Seth D. DuCharme, and Richard M. Tucker, along with Trial Attorney Annamartine Salick of the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section, are in charge of the prosecution. Trial Attorneys Shanna Batten and Dan Stigall of the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided invaluable assistance.
MADHI HASHI, also known as “Talha”
ALI YASIN AHMED, also known as “Ismail”
MOHAMED YUSUF, also known as “Abu Zaid,” “Hudeyfa” and “Mohammed Abdulkadir”