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Filed under: News and photos — admin     3:01 pm July 16, 2011

A Somali terror group has allegedly recruited more than 20 young men from Minnesota to fight against the Ethopian army.

Details of how a carefully-organised Islamist cell raised money, created fake itineraries and held secret meetings have emerged ahead of the trial of one suspected leader.

Omer Abdi Mohamed, 26, is one of 18 men charged with recruiting young Somalis from Minneapolis to join terror group al-Shabab, which has links to Al Qaeda.

Peter Wold said: ‘Omer was never involved in terrorism. It certainly stirs the public sentiment to suggest that, but it is not part of this case, not a part of Omer, and that will be abundantly clear.’

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 about seven million people.

In 2006, Ethiopian soldiers occupied parts of Somalia and an Islamic militant group called al-Shabab fought against them.

The U.S. declared al-Shabab a terrorist organisation in early 2008.

Officials had long suspected the group had ties to Al Qaeda, but it was not confirmed until 2010, when al-Shabab officially aligned itself with the terror group.

According to prosecutors, from September 2007, Mohamed and others conspired to raise money to send men to Somalia so they could oust the Ethiopians with violence.

Others were also recruited to the cause. The group held meetings at mosques and restaurants, and took measures to keep things secretive.

Prosecutors said: ‘The defendant and his conspirators strove to keep the plan secret, reminding members not to discuss it with anyone outside of the conspiracy, and policing entry into the group.

Mohamed and the other 17 men who have been charged allegedly went to malls and apartments, falsely telling members of the Somali community they were raising money to build a mosque or help relief efforts in their home country.

The money actually went to the travellers, who planned to join one group member’s relative – a senior member of al-Shabab – in Somalia.

The group stopped two recruits from leaving Minnesota in the fall of 2007 because they were too young, and decided their disappearance would draw attention to the plan, the documents said.

It read: ‘They challenged members of the conspiracy who had planned to travel, questioning their commitment, dedication, and knowledge of both the religion and events in Somalia, before ultimately assisting them with the trip.

In Minneapolis, the conspiracy focused on travelling and funding trips and in Somalia, it focused on the use of safe-houses and weapons training, prosecutors said.

Some Minneapolis men helped clear brush for a training camp, and some participated in a July 2008 ambush of Ethiopian troops along a road in Somalia. The preparations and the ambush were filmed as part of a propaganda video.

Prosecutors say in that video, a man from Minneapolis encourages more men to join the fighters in Somalia.

Mohamed’s trial starts on Tuesday with jury selection.

Source : Daily Mail

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