nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Yusuf (S.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 2011) (guilty plea in al Shabaab material support case)

United States v. Yusuf (S.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 2011) (guilty plea in al Shabaab material support case)

DOJ’s press release, describing the guilty plea in this material support to al-Shabaab case, appears below. I would note, though, that it is an interesting exercise to ask how this case would have played out had sections 1031 and 1032 of the Senate NDAA bill, currently under debate, been in force.

Section 1032, the “mandatory detention” provision, could not apply to Yusuf if she were a US citizen…but if I’m not mistaken she is instead a lawful permanent resident, and hence would be subject to that provision if she comes within its substantive scope. Would she?

Well, 1032 applies to persons determined to

(i) be part of al Qaeda or associated forces (thus requiring an analysis of

(a) whether al-Shabaab at this point counts as an associated force of al Qaeda, a position the Obama Administration has not yet embraced so far as I know and

(b) whether Yusuf’s conduct amounts to becoming part of al-Shabaab…support alone not being sufficient under 1032)); and

(ii) have participated in a planned or actual attack or attempted attack on the US or its coalition partners (thus requiring an analysis of whether

(a) the Somali transitional government, or maybe the African Union force in Mogadishu, or maybe Kenyan or Ethiopian forces in the area, count as “coalition forces” and

(b) the allegation of a plot to go abroad to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab counts as a plot to attack those coalition forces).

So, in short, hard to say as to 1032.

Would she at least be subject to the possibility of military detention, under 1031? The answer is more likely yes, but still not dispositive. 1031 does not require involvement in a particular plot, so that problem is avoided. And it encompasses both members and non-member supporters, and the allegation here does sound in “support.” The question, then, is simply whether al-Shabaab is an associated force of al Qaeda.

In any event, here’s the press release about the actual plea agreement:

SAN DIEGO – Nima Yusuf, 25, a resident of San Diego, pleaded guilty today in federal court in San Diego to conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a foreign terrorist organization, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy announced. Yusuf entered her plea before Magistrate Judge Ruben B. Brooks, and the plea is subject to final acceptance by U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz at or before sentencing.

As part of her plea, Yusuf admitted that she entered into an agreement with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, Abdisalan Hussein Ali, Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax and Abdiweili Yassin Isse to provide material support to al-Shabaab in the form of money and personnel to work under the direction and control of al-Shabaab. Yusuf admitted that she entered this agreement despite knowing that the United States had designated al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization and that it was illegal to provide money or other material support to al-Shabaab.

Hassan, Ali, Faarax and Isse are charged separately in a federal grand jury indictment in Minnesota for conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, among other offenses. The Minnesota indictment also charges Faarax with solicitation to commit a crime of violence, based on his alleged recruitment of three other men to travel to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, one of whom is believed to have carried out a suicide bombing on al-Shabaab’s behalf in or about October 2008.

As part of her guilty plea, Yusuf admitted that she knew Hassan, Ali, Faarax and Isse had left the United States to join and fight for al-Shabaab in Somalia. She admitted that, between approximately February 2010 and November 2010, she sent approximately $1,450 to these men, who were then fighting in Somalia for al-Shabaab. She also admitted that, when she was twice interviewed by agents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security concerning her activities, she falsely denied sending any money to Somalia.

Al-Shabaab is a terrorist organization based in Somalia, with objectives including the overthrow of the Transitional Federal Government, the elimination of African Union support for the TFG and the imposition of Shari’a law in Somalia. Al-Shabaab has engaged in and used violence, intimidation and acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings, in Somalia and elsewhere to further its objectives.

Yusuf is next scheduled to appear in court for sentencing on Feb. 10, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz in San Diego. She remains held without bail pending sentencing. She faces a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This investigation was conducted by the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI.

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