nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Omar (D. Minn. Aug. 2011) (material support & murder conspiracy indictment in al-Shabaab case)

August 15, 2011

* United States v. Omar (D. Minn. Aug. 2011) (material support & murder conspiracy indictment in al-Shabaab case)

A Somali man (with lawful permanent resident status in the US) has been extradited from the Netherlands to the United States to face charges including conspiracy to commit murder abroad (18 USC 956(a)) and conspiracy to provide material support (money, personnel) in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit murder abroad. At bottom, the allegation is that Omar recruited and provided funds for weapons to young Somali-American men in Minnesota in connection with recruitment for al-Shabaab. The contents of the press release appear below.

Note that this is at least the second time in the post-9/11 period in which a terrorism-related defendant has been extradited from the Netherlands to the United States. The earlier case, United States v. Delaema, included relative strict conditions from the Dutch, including a requirement that he be repatriated to serve his sentence (including the prospect that a Dutch judge might reduce his sentence, which did in fact happen). Since Omar unlike Delaema is not a Dutch citizen, one has to assume that nothing similar will be required in this instance. Omar thus faces the prospect of a life sentence.

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in Minneapolis, Mahamud Said Omar made his initial appearance on charges related to supporting al-Shabaab, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda. He appeared before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis.

On Aug. 20, 2009, Omar, age 45, formerly of Minneapolis, was indicted in federal court in the District of Minnesota with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations as well as conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad. Omar, also known as Mohamud Said Omar and Sharif Omar, was arrested in the Netherlands in November of 2009. He was extradited from the Netherlands to the United States earlier this week.

The 2009 indictment states that from September of 2007 through August of 2009, Omar, a Somali citizen who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, conspired with others to provide financial assistance as well as personnel to al-Shabaab. Court documents allege that Omar gave money to young men so they could travel from Minneapolis to Somalia to train with and fight for al-Shabaab. Omar also allegedly visited an al-Shabaab safe-house in Marka, south of Mogadishu, where he provided the Minneapolis men with hundreds of dollars for the purchase of AK-47 assault rifles to use in their efforts.

This case arose out of “Operation Rhino,” an investigation that focused on the disappearance of young ethnic Somali men who lived in the Minneapolis area and were ultimately found to have been recruited to fight with al-Shabaab back in Somalia. The earliest groups of identified “travelers” departed the United States in October and December 2007, while others left in February 2008, August 2008, November 2008, and October 2009. Upon arriving in Somalia, the men resided in al-Shabaab safe-houses in Southern Somalia until constructing an al-Shabaab training camp, where they were trained by senior members of al-Shabaab along with a senior member of al-Qaeda.