MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man accused of helping young Somali men travel to their war-stricken homeland to possibly fight with a terrorist group held mobilizing meetings at mosques and homes, and conspired to provide money and weapons, prosecutors alleged in a new indictment made public Thursday.
The allegations are just some of the new details in a superseding indictment against Omer Abdi Mohamed, 26, of St. Anthony. Mohamed, who was first charged in 2009, has maintained his innocence and remains free on electronic monitoring as he awaits a July 19 trial on terrorism charges.
The court documents list more details about the terror charges, suggesting that from September 2007 through November 2009, Mohamed conspired with others to provide money, lodging, training, safe houses, false documentation, weapons and other items that he knew would be used to harm people in Somalia.
The indictment also adds three counts of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, alleging he was part of a conspiracy in which others used or possessed AK-47s in Somalia. Prosecutors said he never traveled to Somalia, but helped others who did.
“Those are allegations, but that’s all they are,” said his attorney, Peter Wold.
Wold said Mohamed did nothing under false pretenses, which also was alleged in the indictment, and is a good father who works hard to support his wife and child.
“He works, he prays at the mosque every day — then, today and tomorrow. I’m tired of these allegations — that showing up at the mosque and praying every day somehow makes them a conspirator.”
Jeanne Cooney, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, couldn’t comment about specifics of this case, but said superseding indictments aren’t unusual in complicated, ongoing cases as authorities uncover more evidence.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a socialist dictator and then turned on each other, causing chaos in the African nation of 7 million.
In late 2006, Ethiopian soldiers were brought into Somalia by a weak U.N.-backed government that was struggling to regain control of the country. Many Somalis saw that occupation as an invasion, and they viewed the Ethiopian soldiers as abusive and heavy-handed. A group called al-Shabab was fighting the Ethiopians — and in early 2008, the U.S. designated al-Shabab as a terrorist group.
According to the new indictment, Mohamed and others began to mobilize men to travel to Somalia to fight against the Ethiopians in the fall of 2007. The indictment said Mohamed was among those who held meetings at mosques, restaurants, private homes and other locations in and around Minneapolis.
Mohamed and his co-conspirators also spoke by phone with people in Somalia and participated in fund-raising in Minneapolis and elsewhere under false pretenses, according to the indictment.
He’s also accused of working with others to purchase tickets and obtain an itinerary that falsely showed one person would be traveling to a place other than Somalia.
The indictment also reveals a new name in connection with the case: a man named Dahir Gure allegedly left Minneapolis on Oct. 30, 2007 and was bound for Somalia.
Little was immediately known about Gure, but the indictment suggests that he is among the roughly 20 Somali men who are believed to have left Minnesota in waves starting in the fall of 2007 to possibly fight with al-Shabab in Somalia.
E.K. Wilson, the FBI agent supervising the investigation, would not comment on Gure or his whereabouts.
For more than two years, Minneapolis has been the center of an ongoing federal investigation into those who traveled to Somalia to fight. A total of 19 people have been charged in Minnesota in connection with the travelers and alleged terror financing.
Additional people have been charged in San Diego and St. Louis for allegedly funneling money to the terror group.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)