WASHINGTON, D.C. — Terrorism charges were unsealed today in Minneapolis against eight men the Department of Justice said attended terror training camps in Somalia, financed trips there and “fought on behalf of” al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant group based in southern Somalia that U.S. authorities have named a terrorist group.
Justice officials said the eight are part of a group of 20 who left Minneapolis between September 2007 and October of this year to fight against the U.N.-supported government of Somalia, which is fighting to gain control of the country but in practice only controls part of the capital Mogadishu. Some of the 20 men died when they carried out suicide bombings, officials said.
“The recruitment of young people from Minneapolis and other U.S. communities to fight for extremists in Somalia has been the focus of intense investigation for many months,” said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security. “While the charges unsealed today underscore our progress to date, this investigation is ongoing. Those who sign up to fight or recruit for al-Shabaab’s terror network should be aware that they may well end up as defendants in the United States or casualties of the Somali conflict.”
One of the defendants, Mahamud Said Omar, is in custody in the Netherlands. The other seven remain at large and are believed to be outside of the United States.