MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two Minnesota women accused of going door-to-door to raise money for al-Shabab knew the Somali-based group engaged in terrorism and “rejoiced” when they heard about its victories in their war-torn homeland, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

However, an attorney for one of the women told jurors during opening statements that Amina Farah Ali, 35, was just trying to help her fellow Somalis and didn’t know the U.S. considers al-Shabab a terrorist group.

Prosecutors have said Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 64, were part of a “deadly pipeline” that routed money and fighters from the U.S. to Somalia. The women, both U.S. citizens of Somali decent, are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Ali also faces 12 counts of providing such support — for allegedly sending more than $8,600 to the group on multiple occasions from September 2008 through July 2009. Hassan faces three counts of lying to the FBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen told jurors the two women solicited funds under false pretenses and when they learned about al-Shabab’s terrorist activities “they rejoiced in it, and then, they would go out and raise more money to send to al-Shabab.”

Paulsen said prosecutors will prove the women knew the money they collected was going to al-Shabab, that they knew they were doing something illegal, and that they knew the group engaged in terrorism.

Ali’s defense attorney, Dan Scott, said his client was an avid fundraiser who collected money and clothing for the needy. Scott didn’t outright tell jurors that Ali gave money to al-Shabab, but he did say she was raising money for people in Somalia fighting against “invaders.”

Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991, when dictator Siad Barre was overthrown by warlords who then turned on each other. Islamist militants led by al-Shabab are trying to overthrow the weak U.N.-backed government that is being propped up by about 9,000 African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi.

Scott said Somalis who fled that chaos and survived have a “built-in need to help.” He counted Ali among those people.

“Amina Ali was trying to get her help to the people she believed needed it the most, and for that, she should not be convicted,” Scott said.

He said Ali did not know al-Shabab had been declared a terrorist organization until the government told her in July 2009. The U.S. claims al-Shabab has ties to al-Qaida, and the State Department officially declared it a terrorist organization in 2008.

Hassan’s attorney plans to make his opening statement after the government presents its case.

Each terrorism count carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Over the course of 10 months, investigators ran a wiretap on Ali’s home and cellphones, intercepting roughly 30,000 calls. Paulsen told jurors the wiretap ran for so long because Ali was “plugged in” to some prominent militants, including a regional governor for al-Shabab and a known terrorist who lectured at one of the women’s teleconferences.

The lecturers would give “fiery speeches and get people all worked up,” Paulsen said, then Hassan and Ali would take pledges. They would have someone else use false names to transfer the money to al-Shabab accounts, he said.

Paulsen said in one call, Ali admits she “diverts” money to al-Shabab, and that when choosing charities, it’s better to “let the civilians die. The Mujahidin should be supported.” Mujahidin is a term for holy warriors, Paulsen said.

Ali and Hassan had both been free pending trial, but Ali has been in custody since Monday for refusing to stand for the judge or the jury, citing religious grounds.

She told Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis on Tuesday that she was stripped naked, forced to remove her head covering, and told to put on a jail jump suit. She said through a translator that “strong people” came into her cell and forced her to the floor, and that she believed she was in the presence of men. One person stepped on her neck, she said.


She was then placed in a room with a camera, she said, and could not use the bathroom all night out of fear that men would be watching her. Her religion forbids her to be seen uncovered by men.

“I feel like I am being persecuted and I can no longer tolerate this kind of punishment,” she said.

Thomas Volk, spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Minnesota, said female sheriff’s deputies were called on to handle the situation. Volk said Ali then complied and changed into the standard jail clothing, and no force was used.

Davis said he has to balance protecting Ali’s modesty with jailhouse security, and that she must follow orders just like any other prisoner.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (34)
  1. What Next? says:

    Waaaaaaa, boo-hoo….cry me a river. I hear Somalia is beautiful this time of year.

    1. Spike Moss says:

      What a hideous,filthy,repulsive,arrogant Culture of people…She’s even uglier without the diaper on her head!

    2. Go Back says:

      I hope she ‘makes friends’ in prison. I wish they’d just ship her back in a box.

  2. Judge Dread says:

    Respect our court systems and our judges Sheethead. And if you don’t like it go back to Somalia.

    1. Reverend Joe says:

      Go back to washing your feet in the toilet.

    2. Reverend Joe says:

      Go back to washing your feet in the toilet.

  3. Tina says:

    And I might add, she certainly is a beauty!!!!

    1. stinky toe says:

      I bet she has the cleanest camel in the desert!

  4. j speedbag 64 says:

    dont waste a dime on this idiot,try and convict and deport

  5. allemani says:

    Next time STAND UP ! Its OUR LAW. And wear some makeup for Gods sake. lol

  6. Kevin says:

    Bring this somali POS to my house….I will show her what mistreatment is…..again….she is a US citizen ( not by my vote )….this is Treason…..put her up against a wall….and have a fireing squad remove her from our welfare rolls……

  7. get rid of them says:

    Real easy don’t even put her through court take her five miles off the east coast give her an innertube toss her in and tell her to swim bak to her shi% hole country

  8. Mike Jacobson says:

    How easy is it to receive US Citizenship? obviously we need to make some changes. Our tax dollars have been supporting this criminal as she collects money for terrorists, who just yesterday blew up 80 some people. I hope her welfare has been shutdown.

    1. Jane says:

      Welfare….. She was an interprature at a medical clinic. They all use the system and get paid by the government. There are many others like her. Our system is supporting immigrants while people who are born here have nothing. What is wrong with out government?

  9. Sick and tired of Mooo slums says:

    I love the way everyone flocks to the US because their country sucks. Well, send them all back and let them figure out their own damn problems. If we just left them to their own devices nature would take over and rid us of this so called religion. Shoot first, ask questions later. I blame this mostly on our lawyers. Bunch of ambulance chasing morons. The whole lot of them!

  10. Eric Smith says:

    wow i saw her at walmart in midway st. paul stocking the men’s shoe department LOL

    1. Send them all back says:

      I think they all work at walmart

  11. Bob says:

    I believe if they would give her the “water board” she would talk english and abide by our rules. Just a thought and I don’t have a problem with that. Like the comment about the inner tube, My thought too.

  12. Pla eze! says:

    She knew exactly what she was doing. Now when asked she doesn’t understand the questions and what is happening. It so easy to play stupid when you’re trying to hide the truth.

  13. Richard Head says:

    Sounds like a lot of negative comments coming through. I’m told that these people are contributing to our society somehow. They seem to be doing a great job of reducing the state’s surplus, oh wait, there is no surplus. Maybe this is why. Let me share something more positive about them flocking to Minnesota by the thousands………well, I guess I couldn’t come up with anything. Cut her benefits, and ship her fat EBT a_ _ out!

    1. D says:

      They are most likely getting goverment money every month. Someone should check into that. Our social security is going to terrorists. What a surprise [NOT].

  14. rj says:

    The kind ones keep there mug covered.

    1. D says:

      She has a pig face.

  15. Jim says:

    Are we sure this is a female? If she? is found guilty will she be imprisoned or returned to Somalia to continue trying to murder Americans?

  16. grandmaC says:

    Time to put her on a plane and send her back where she came from. I bet she wouldn’t act like this over there. They come over here and want everyone to adapt to their way of living. If it was so good over there, go back home. If they want to live here, then be an American.

  17. TL the alligator says:

    ….that ugly cow should be deported emmediately along with that scarecrow freind of hers…..these two pathetic POS’s do not deserve to be in this country.

  18. Serve her pork says:

    Damn, Better she is covered up. Who the hell would want to see her naked

  19. get a grip woman says:

    Tough! Be anal retentive and suffer. The only thing that is required is to cover your head, anything else is a personal choice. So tired of this bull hockey. You’re in prison for crimes against America. You should be asking for mercy!

  20. fred says:

    your tax dollars at work

  21. just sayin says:

    “I feel like I am being persecuted and I can no longer tolerate this kind of punishment,” she said.

    Oh really?? Thats what happens in this country when you commit a crime you dirtball POS!!!!! GET HER OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!! AND THE REST OF THEM TOO!

  22. ladyluck says:

    Bye Bye Moose Face………Go home and see how bad the persecution is in your country……..betcha you’d wish you were back in America wearing an Orange jump suit!

  23. D says:

    I hope she goes to jail for a long time.

  24. Mr D says:

    Where are all of the Somali supporters now? Over the last few months I have commented about the Somali’s in a negative manor, only because they have been in the news a lot lately. Many of the idiots cried racism. Come on in and support your dirty stinking terrorist now you liberal wussies.

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