Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Al-Shabaab Member Brought to US to Stand Trial

Via MSNBC.com -

A member of the al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia was secretly brought to the U.S. early Tuesday to stand trial in federal court, after spending weeks giving the U.S. "valuable intelligence information" about al-Qaeda's operations in both Somalia and Yemen, senior U.S. officials said.

Ahmed Abdulqadir Warsame, a native of Somalia, was arrested April 19 in the Persian Gulf region by the U.S. military and kept on a Navy ship at sea where he was questioned by a team of U.S. interrogators.

"He gave us very valuable intelligence," one official said. The officials declined to say where the arrest took place.

Administration officials said Warsame was in a special position to reveal details about al-Qaeda's operations in both Somalia and Yemen. They describe him as a go-between for the two groups and said he spent the past year in Yemen.

"The information he provided has been used to get a better understanding of what we're up against" involving Al-Qaeda in Yemen, one official said.

The officials said Warsame was questioned for two months before he was given a Miranda warning about his right to remain silent.

"After waiving those rights, he spoke to law enforcement agents for several days," the Justice Department said, and then his cooperation stopped.

Warsame was brought to New York City early Tuesday morning and appeared later in the day before a federal judge in Manhattan to face terrorism charges. He's accused of providing money, weapons, advice and training to the two terrorist groups. He faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted. Nothing in the charges suggests that he had any direct role in specific al-Qaida plots.

"He would teach and demonstrate the making and use of explosives and destructive devices," according to an indictment filed under seal and made public Tuesday.

Many members of Congress have been critical of the Obama administration for bringing terror suspects to the U.S. to stand trial, instead of declaring them enemy combatants and trying them before military commissions. The officials said the decision to bring him to the U.S. to stand trial in a civilian court was unanimous among federal agencies, including the Defense Department.


In January 2009, Al-Qaeda in Yemen (AQY) merged with Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia to form Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

In late June 2011, it was reported that a U.S. drone aircraft fired on two senior members of al-Shabaab, a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, allegedly killing at least one midlevel operative and wounding others.

The airstrike makes Somalia at least the sixth country where the United States is using drone aircraft to conduct lethal attacks, joining Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen.

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