Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Jurors heard closing arguments in the terror trial of two Somali-American women from Rochester on Monday and now, the case is in their hands.
Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan are accused of raising and sending more than $8,000 dollars to a terror group in Somalia.
The women say the money was going to help orphans and the families of soldiers.
The biggest weapon prosecutors have are hours of taped conversations in which the two women can be heard talking to al-Shabab members and urging that donations be small so they can be concealed more easily.
Outside federal court, supporters of the woman gathered. They say these women were merely sending money to orphans and the poor in Somalia.
“These women were doing kind work, charitable work humanitarian work, helping the orphans,” supporter Abdi Nasir said.
Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan were indicted in August 2010 on charges of conspiracy and aiding a terrorist organization.
Hassan is also accused of lying to federal investigators. During a court appearance after the indictment, Ali told reporters, “We are not terrorist. We are Muslim. Muslim, not terrorists.”
At the start of this trial, Chief Judge Michael Davis ordered Amina Ali jailed because she refused to stand when the judge and jury entered the courtroom.
After two days, Ali changed her mind — she and Hassan remain free pending the jury’s verdict.
The phone calls are the core of the government’s case. In one of the calls Amina Ali said, “Let’s forget about the other charities. How about the Jihad?”
Supporters insist the women are not terrorists and that their case is being followed closely back home.
“There was a protest in Somalia. There was a protest right here in Minnesota and we are showing our support for these two great women,” supporter Abdi Nasir said.
If convicted on all counts, Hassan faces a maximum of 39 years and Ali, who is accused of actually sending the money, faces 180 years.