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14 charged over Somalia terror link

US authorities have charged 14 people, most of them Americans, as participants in "a deadly pipeline" that routed money and fighters from the United States to the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia.

The cases in Minnesota, California and Alabama reflect "a disturbing trend" of recruitment efforts targeting US residents to become terrorists, Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference.

He credited Muslim community leaders in the United States for regularly denouncing terrorists and for providing critical assistance to law enforcement to help disrupt terrorist plots and combat radicalisation.

"We must ... work to prevent this type of radicalisation from ever taking hold," Mr Holder said.

At least seven of the 14 people charged are US citizens and 10 of them, all from the state of Minnesota, allegedly left the United States to join al-Shabab. Seven of the 10 had been charged previously in the probe.

Al-Shabab is a Somali insurgent faction embracing a radical form of Islam similar to the harsh, conservative brand practised by Afghanistan's Taliban regime.

Its fighters, numbering several thousand strong, are battling Somalia's weakened government and have been branded a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaida by the US and other Western countries.

One of two indictments issued in Minnesota alleges that two Somali women who were among those charged, and others, went door-to-door in the US and Canada to raise funds for al-Shabab's operations in Somalia.

The indictment says the women raised the money under false pretences, claiming it would go to the poor and needy, and used phoney names for recipients to conceal that the money was going to al-Shabab.

One of the 14 charged in Alabama was Omar Hammami, who is now known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki. Hammami grew up in the middle-class town of Daphne, Alabama, and attended the University of South Alabama in Mobile, where he was president of the Muslim Student Association nine years ago.


From Belfast Telegraph