American charged over aid to Somali militants


A 26-year-old American was arrested in Ohio on charges that he tried to help Somali al-Shabaab rebels, the latest American accused of trying to aid the militant group, the US Justice Department said.

Ahmed Mahamud, who previously lived in Minnesota, was charged with four counts including conspiracy to provide material support and providing material support to al-Shabaab, which the U.S. government has designated a terrorist group, according to the unsealed indictment.

He is accused of trying to provide money and people to help the militant group in its fight against the Ethiopian military. The four-page indictment did not offer more details about his activities, Reuters reports.

Mahamud is expected to be sent to Minnesota to face the indictment, the Justice Department said. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Already 18 people have been charged in Minnesota during a three-year U.S. investigation into efforts to recruit Americans to train or fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia. Eight have been arrested, five of whom have pleaded guilty.

At least two of the group charged in U.S. courts are believed to have been killed in Somalia. American officials have expressed concerns that the country could also provide a safe haven for al Qaeda militants.

The FBI said on Thursday they had identified one of two bombers who blew themselves up at a government checkpoint in Somalia on May 30 as a Twin Cities man who faced terrorism charges for traveling to Somalia and joining al-Shabaab.

Farah Mohamed Beledi, 27, was identified by comparing fingerprints obtained from one of the bombers with those known to be from Beledi, the FBI said. The FBI has not identified the second bomber.

Beledi was believed to have left Minnesota in October 2009 to travel to Somalia, according to a federal indictment released in July 2010.

Al-Shabaab rebels controls wide swaths of the African country, including parts of the capital, fighting the West-backed government. They claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Uganda last year that killed 79 people.