MINNEAPOLIS, August 15,
2009 — A third man pleaded guilty Wednesday to terror-related charges
stemming from a federal investigation into Americans traveling to
Somalia to fight with Islamic militants.
Kamal Hassan acknowledged lying to FBI agents questioning him in
February about the case and admitted spending time at a training camp
run in Somalia by al-Shabaab, a group designated by the U.S. government
as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida.
Hassan told federal agents that he traveled to Yemen after spending time
in the camp, but admitted Wednesday to a federal judge in Minneapolis
that he had lied. He told U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum he fought
with al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Hassan also admitted concealing the identities of people he associated
with in Minnesota and Somalia.
Few other details about Hassan's case emerged in court, and his age and
hometown weren't immediately available.
As many as 20 young men have traveled to Somalia to join in fighting
there. Family members in Minnesota, where the nation's largest
population of Somali immigrants is concentrated in Minneapolis, say at
least three have died.
Two others also have pleaded guilty to terror-related charges. Salah
Osman Ahmed, 26, of New Brighton, pleaded guilty in July to providing
material support to terrorists. Ahmed acknowledged that he worked with
al-Shabaab in Somalia. Ahmed said he did menial labor at a training camp
but acknowledged he also was trained to use guns.
Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, 25, of Seattle, pleaded guilty in April to one
count of providing material support to terrorists. Isse also spent time
in an al-Shabaab camp in the lawless Horn of Africa country.
Hassan, who wore a dark suit in court on Wednesday, was allowed to meet
briefly in private with three family members before the hearing started.
Afterward, he was taken into custody by U.S. marshals.
He faces up to eight years in prison in a plea agreement worked out with
the U.S. attorney's office. A sentencing date wasn't immediately set.
Court documents unsealed later Wednesday showed that Hassan had pleaded
guilty in February to two other charges: providing material support for
terrorism and providing material support for a foreign terrorist
organization. Court documents said Hassan faces up to 15 years in prison
on each of those charges.
Hassan's attorney, federal public defender Manny Atwal, declined to
comment as she left the courtroom.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords
overthrew a socialist dictator then turned on each other, causing chaos
in the African nation of 7 million. Islamic insurgents with alleged ties
to al-Qaida recently intensified their efforts to capture the capital
Source: The Associated Press, August 13, 2009