Two American women were convicted of sending money to Somalia and Kenya to finance the Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
The pair was found guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Muna Osman Jama, 36, of Reston, Virginia and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, of Kent, Washington “recruited, solicited, and advised an online group located in multiple countries as to how and where to transfer funds to this terrorist organization,” according to FBI officials.
The so called “Group of 15” included women from “Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as Minneapolis,” as reported by a local Virginia newspaper Reston Now.
“Providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations is a very serious crime,” Dana J. Boente, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, said in a statement. “These women funneled money to a terrorist organization which was conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia. National security is the top priority in this office and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who provide material support to terrorists.”
Monthly payments were split between the “Hargeisa Side” in the Golis Mountains of northern Somalia and the “Nairobi side” across the border in Kenya. Funds were broken up into small payments of $50 and $100.
The group funded two Al-Shabaaab safehouses in Kenya and financed Al-Shabaab operations in Somalia. When plotting to send money they used code, referring to “living expenses” for “orphans” and “brothers in the mountains” instead of saying Al-Shabaab fighters.
“Today’s guilty verdicts send a message that facilitation of financial support to a designated terrorist organization equates to terrorist activity itself,” said Paul M. Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office.
They face up to 15 years imprisonment each when sentenced.