SAN DIEGO–A federal jury today convicted four Somali immigrants, including a popular imam at a City Heights mosque, of conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group al Shabaab.
The jury found that the four men—Basaaly Saeed Moalin, a cabdriver in San Diego; Issa Doreh, a worker at a money transmitting business that was the conduit for moving the funds; Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, the imam at a mosque frequented by the city’s immigrant Somali community; and Ahmed Nasiri Taalil Mohamud, a cabdriver from Anaheim—conspired to raise money for the foreign terrorist organization and send it back to Somalia.
During the three-week trial, the United States presented evidence that Moalin, Mohamud, Doreh, and Nasir conspired to provide money to al Shabaab, a violent and brutal militia group in Somalia that engages in suicide bombings, targets civilians for assassination, and uses improvised explosive devices. In February 2008, the U.S. Department of State formally designated al Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization.
At trial, the jury listened to dozens of the defendants’ intercepted telephone conversations, including many conversations between defendant Moalin and Aden Hashi Ayrow, one of al Shabaab’s most prominent leaders who was subsequently killed in a missile strike on May 1, 2008. In those calls, Ayrow implored Moalin to send money to al Shabaab, telling Moalin that it was “time to finance the Jihad.” Ayrow told Moalin, “You are running late with the stuff. Send some and something will happen.” In the calls played for the jury, Ayrow repeatedly asked Moalin to reach out to defendant Mohamud—the imam—to obtain funds for al Shabaab.
According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendants conspired to transfer the funds from San Diego to Somalia through the Shidaal Express, a now-defunct money transmitting business in San Diego.
The United States also presented a recorded telephone conversation in which defendant Moalin gave the terrorists in Somalia permission to use his house in Mogadishu, Somalia, telling Ayrow that “after you bury your stuff deep in the ground, you would, then, plant the trees on top.” Prosecutors argued at trial that Moalin was offering a place to hide weapons.
When Moalin cautioned, however, that the house could be easily identified from afar, Ayrow replied, “No one would know. How could anyone know, if the house is used only during the nights?”
According to United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy, the prosecution was the result of a lengthy investigation by the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force. She said she is pleased with the verdict. “Justice was served today in San Diego,” Duffy said. “The jury clearly did not accept defense claims that months of intercepted conversations about bullets, bombings, and jihad were actually conversations about their charitable efforts for orphans and schools.
“While the FBI is not concerned with the legal transfer of funds to family, friends, and charities overseas, when individuals provide material support to designated terrorists or terrorist organizations, the FBI and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners will bring all resources to bear, to investigate these plots with a common goal of protecting all Americans from those who wish to do us harm,” said Daphne Hearn, FBI Special Agent in Charge.
“These convictions illustrate the importance of collaboration when promoting national security,” said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “Protecting our nation’s security is our top priority, and I commend all of the federal law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly to make this a successful investigation. ”
Al Shabaab is a terrorist organization based in Somalia with objectives including the overthrow of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the elimination of African Union support for the TFG. Al Shabaab has engaged in and used, violence, intimidation, and acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings, in Somalia and elsewhere to further its objectives.
Here is a breakdown of the verdict:
Moalin was onvicted of five counts including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorist, conspiracy to provide material support to foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, providing material support to terrorists, and providing material support to foreign terrorist organization
Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud was onvicted of four counts including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorist, conspiracy to provide material support to foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and providing material support to foreign terrorist organization
Issa Doreh was convicted of four counts including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorist, conspiracy to provide material support to foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and providing material support to foreign terrorist organization
Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud was convicted of three counts including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorist, conspiracy to provide material support to foreign terrorist organization, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
Sentencing was set for May 16 before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller.