Skip to main content

Four Somalis in U.S. found guilty of supporting terrorists back home

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 4:23 AM EST, Sat February 23, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • San Diego jury convicts four Somalis after hearing recorded phone calls with terror leader
  • Federal agents record dozens of calls over months
  • Prosecutor: They talked about "bullets, bombings and Jihad"
  • The defendants said the conversations were about charity for orphans

(CNN) -- A Somali terror leader implored his fellow countryman in California to send money 'to finance jihad," triggering a chain of events that ended with four convictions.

U.S. government agents recorded dozens of such calls a few years ago, according to the Department of Justice.

And on Friday, a jury found four Somali nationals guilty of supporting terrorism in their native country.

The verdict came after prosecutors played the recordings to jurors in a San Diego federal court during weeks of trial.

The four, who included an imam and a cab driver, had raised $10,000 and wired it to the Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabaab, according to the original indictment.

Cab driver Basaaly Saeed Moalin had many phone conversations with former Al-Shabaab leader Aden Hashi Ayrow, before a U.S. missile strike ended the latter's life in May 2008.

Investigators from the FBI, Homeland Security and a San Diego anti-terror agency recorded dozens of them.

Federal prosecutors filed charges in November 2011. The group pleaded not guilty. But the recordings convinced the jurors otherwise.

Read the case file (pdf)

The money wasn't coming fast enough for Ayrow, who implored Moalin in at least one recorded call to hurry it up. "You are running late with the stuff," Ayrow told him. "Send some, and something will happen."

Ayrow pushed the cab driver to get his local imam to come up with some funds. Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud ran the City Heights mosque in San Diego, which many in the Somali community attended.

Together with a second cab driver, Ahmed Nasiri Taalil Mohamud, and an employee at a money transfer company, Issa Doreh, they raised the cash and wired it to Al-Shabaab , the Justice Department said.

It wasn't the only favor Moalin did for the terror group.

Moalin had kept a house in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, one of the world's most embattled cities at the time. He offered to let the terrorists use it, the Department of Justice said.

"After you bury your stuff deep in the ground, you would, then, plant trees on top," Moalin told Ayrow in a recorded conversation. Prosecutors argued he was "offering a place to hide weapons."

For months, they talked about "bullets, bombing and Jihad," said U. S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy. After hearing the recordings, the jury no longer bought the defendants' explanation that they "were actually conversations about their charitable efforts for orphans and schools," she said.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 16.

Al-Shabaab is one of about 50 groups that have been designated by the State Department as foreign terrorist organizations.

The Islamist extremists have been waging a war against Somalia's government in an effort to implement a stricter form of Islamic law, or sharia.

In recent years, Somali and African Union troops, who have received funding from the U.S. government, have won many battles against the terror group, pushing it back to a handful of strongholds.

For more than 20 years, Somalia did not have a stable government, and fighting between the rebels and government troops added to the impoverished east African nation's humanitarian crisis.

In January, the United States granted official recognition to the Somali government in Mogadishu.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:26 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
A year ago, 1,000 garment workers died in the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Here's a look at what has changed since then.
updated 12:53 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Focus is on the fish as U.S. President starts tour with visit to legendary Tokyo restaurant.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Fireworks are fantastic and human endeavor has its place, but sometimes Mother Nature outshines any performance we can produce.
updated 11:06 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
In 1987, China sent its very first email. Here's what it said,
updated 10:13 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
The world's new fastest elevator will fling you from earth to the 95th floor before you're done reading this article.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
In one U.S. state, a new bill will allow ordinary citizens to carry guns in all sorts of places. Does it make you feel safer?
updated 10:10 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
updated 1:36 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
updated 1:11 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT