WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday praised the FBI for arresting two people and charging 12 others from Minnesota, Alabama, and California with material support for the terrorist organization al-Shabaab.
The charges are part of a two-year-long FBI investigation into the disappearance of a score of young Somali-Americans from the Minnesota-St. Paul area believed to have travelled to Somalia to fight with al-Shabaab.
“Today’s FBI indictments confirm what our Committee learned in 2007 and 2008: homegrown terrorism is an established threat in this country and is growing,” Lieberman said. “The FBI deserves much credit for its investigation into homegrown support for al-Shabaab. The success of its investigation reminds us that we cannot let up in our efforts to defeat violent Islamist extremism at home and abroad.”
Said Collins: “The FBI is to be commended for its diligent investigative work and tireless efforts that led to today’s arrests and charges. These latest revelations about the radicalization of people living in this country, some of whom are U.S. citizens, underscore our Committee’s multiple hearings on the issue of home-based terrorism and the support for terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab. We must step up our efforts to counter violent radicalization because the consequences can be devastating, whether overseas or in our own country.”
The FBI unsealed new indictments against 14 people – 12 from Minnesota, one from California, and one from Alabama. Two of those under indictment were arrested for material support related to a fund-raising conspiracy that including going door-to-door to raise money for al-Shabaab. Seven of those charged were charged with other crimes previously. In all, 19 people have been charged in relation to Al-Shabaab recruitment in the last two years.
Among those charged are Omar Hammami – also known as Abu Mansoor Al-Amrika – a U.S. citizen who was the subject of a New York Times Magazine article entitled The Jihadist Next Door. Hammami was born and raised in Alabama. He travelled to Somalia and joined al-Shabaab in 2006. According to media reports, he is now an al-Shabaab commander.
The Committee has investigated violent Islamist extremism and homegrown terror, holding 10 hearings and releasing a report on the role of the Internet in recruitment. A hearing March 11, 2009, focused specifically on the recruitment of over a dozen young American men of Somali descent who left Minneapolis to train and fight for al-Shabaab.