Friday, May 29, 2009

Twin Cities Man Pleads to Helping Al-Qaida

Via -

A terror suspect arrested in the Twin Cities and held in solitary confinement for more than five years pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to provide support and resources to al-Qaida.

Mohammed Abdullah Warsame's guilty plea, announced by U.S. Attorney Frank Magill Jr., comes about two weeks after Warsame's attorneys asked for his release while awaiting trial on charges that also included lying to the FBI.

As part of a plea agreement, Warsame, 35, a naturalized Canadian citizen of Somali descent, admitted to a single count of conspiring to support al-Qaida. Under the agreement, the other charges will be dismissed.

Warsame remains in federal custody. It wasn't immediately clear whether he will be released or be required to serve more time after his July 9 sentencing.

His lead attorney, David Thomas, and Peter Erlinder, a William Mitchell College of Law professor helping the defense, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Warsame faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, federal sentencing guidelines often result in lighter sentences. The U.S. attorney's office said Warsame agreed to be deported to Canada after he serves his sentence.

Authorities have said that before Warsame settled in Minneapolis, he spent time in Afghanistan, meeting Osama bin Laden, fighting with the Taliban and teaching English to members of al-Qaida.

Warsame stressed to the FBI agents that he had not intended to travel to Afghanistan to attend a training camp but ended up enrolling in such a camp in Kabul. During the months-long camp, he "engaged in a variety of military training."

Warsame told investigators he saw bin Laden on several occasions and even sat next to him "on the floor" for a meal.

"The defendant stated that bin Laden was very inspirational," according to court documents, which also stated that Warsame knew bin Laden was a fugitive sought by several governments in connection with alleged terrorist attacks.

Warsame said that after two months in the second camp, he traveled to an al-Qaida guesthouse near Kandahar. While there, he worked as a guard and taught English.

By early 2001, Warsame told a senior al-Qaida official in Kandahar of his plans to remain in Afghanistan and that he needed money to send for his wife and daughter, still living in Minneapolis. But the official told Warsame to return to North America and provided $1,700 for his travel, prosecutors said Monday.

He returned to Toronto in April 2001 and joined his family in the Twin Cities in 2002 and began school. But authorities say he has kept in touch with fellow camp attendees and even wired money to them through a bank account in Pakistan.

Under the plea agreement, Warsame admitted to conspiring with others to provide al-Qaida with personnel, training and currency starting in March 2000.

Warsame has been in custody since Dec. 8, 2003. He was first held as a material witness, then indicted six weeks later.

No comments:

Post a Comment