As part of the massive ongoing investigation, FBI agents in Minneapolis have approached numerous Somalis on the street, in their homes, at a mosque, and on the University of Minnesota campus.
The FBI claims that more than 20 Somali youth living in Minneapolis have gone to Somalia to fight with al-Shabab, an armed Islamist group that Washington alleges has growing ties to al-Qaeda. Al-Shabab fought to overthrow the Somali government in Mogadishu that came out of a U.S.-backed invasion of the country by thousands of Ethiopian troops in 2006. That government was replaced following UN-brokered elections earlier this year. The group is currently fighting against the new government, which has the support of the main imperialist powers, including Washington, and is backed by thousands of African Union troops.
In February, FBI Director Robert Mueller claimed that the Somali youth were radicalized by people in two mosques in Minneapolis and St. Paul. According to news reports, they are the central targets of the investigation, but six more people are expected to be indicted.
Isse was arrested in February and has been held in detention since then. Under these conditions, he agreed to plead guilty to the charge of providing material support to terrorists. According to newspaper reports, he has admitted to training with al-Shabab for a week or two, receiving an AK-47 assault rifle, and helping to build a training center. The same reports say he is now cooperating with the investigators.
Under the Patriot Act, the charges against Ahmed and Isse carry very heavy penalties. The charge of giving support to terrorists carries a possible 10-year sentence. This charge has been the excuse for two sets of raids against Somali-owned businesses in Minneapolisone in November 2001 and another earlier this year. In the case of the raids in 2001, the FBI later admitted they had no evidence.
Charges of conspiracy are frequently used by prosecutors when they have no evidence of a violation of law. Five Cuban revolutionaries unjustly held in U.S. jails for nearly 11 years were framed up on bogus charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. In October 1995 Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine other defendants were convicted of seditious conspiracy for the 1993 bombings of the World Trade Center in New York. Rahman was convicted of being the mastermind of the bombing. The governments evidence consisted of a few phone calls.
National Public Radio described the indictments of Isse and Ahmed as thin. According to NPR, the three-page indictment does not mention recruitment of young Somalis, nor does it mention al-Shabab, the organization to which they were allegedly recruited. What the conspiracy was Isse and Ahmed participated in is also never spelled out, the report said.
Isse had already left al-Shabab before the U.S. State Department designated the group as terrorist.
At the time the first of the Somali youth left Minneapolis to return to Somalia, their country had been illegally invaded and taken over by U.S.-backed Ethiopian troops. This was a move broadly opposed by Somalis in the United States as well as in Somalia. The East African country has not had a national central government since 1991. The authority of the current U.S.-backed government extends to parts of Mogadishu and parts of the south central area of the country only.
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