US Tries Women Accused of Funding Somali Terror Group

Posted October 3rd, 2011 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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The trial has begun for two American women charged with raising money and recruiting fighters for the Somali militant group al-Shabab.

Jury selection began Monday in the U.S. city of Minneapolis for the trial of 35-year-old Amina Farah Ali and 64-year-old Hawo Mohamed Hassan.

Prosecutors say the women, who are both of Somali descent, collected money from the Minnesota Somali community to send to the al-Qaida-linked group.

The U.S. government says it wiretapped Ali's home and cellular phones over a 10-month period, monitoring some 30,000 calls. Court documents say investigators also searched the trash outside Ali's apartment dozens of times.

The two women have claimed they were soliciting money from the Somali community for charitable causes. But prosecutors claim the money was used to help at least 20 men travel from Minnesota to Somalia to join al-Shabab.

Ali and Hassan are accused of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Ali faces an additional 12 counts for allegedly sending more than $8,600 to al-Shabab beginning in 2008.

The women are among 20 people accused of taking part in the scheme to support the group. Some of them have pleaded guilty, while others await trial or remain fugitives.

Al-Shabab is fighting to overthrow Somalia's fragile transitional government in a bid to impose a strict form of Sharia, or Islamic law. The group recently pulled its fighters from the Somali capital of Mogadishu but continues to hold large sections of southern and central Somalia.