By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Two Somali Americans have been charged with providing material support to terrorists, the Justice Department disclosed yesterday, the first indictments in an investigation of people allegedly departing America to train or fight on behalf of terrorist groups in Somalia.
A federal grand jury in Minneapolis indicted Abdifatah Yusuf "Omar" Isse and Salah Osman "Salman" Ahmed on Feb. 19, and the indictments were unsealed yesterday. Each also faces one count of conspiring to kill, kidnap, maim and injure, according to court papers, and Ahmed was also charged with two counts of lying to FBI agents.
Ahmed made an initial court appearance in Minnesota on Monday afternoon. James Ostgard, an attorney for Ahmed, could not be reached for comment. Isse is in U.S. custody.
The defendants allegedly traveled to Africa in September 2007 and returned in December under arrangements that remain mysterious, officials said. Authorities said the investigation continues.
Islamic extremists' recruitment of a U.S. citizen to perform a suicide bombing in Somalia last fall and the recent disappearance of more than a dozen Somali American teenagers and young men led to a wide-ranging investigation into the possible "radicalization" of U.S. citizens, U.S. officials have said. Officials said the youths, some under the influence of U.S.-based imams, fought for al-Shabaab, a group with close links to al-Qaeda.