* Two in Minnesota accused of raising money for al Shabaab
* Alabama man suspected of being among Shabaab leadership
* Holder says more in US captivated by extremist ideology (Adds details on others charged)
WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors unveiled charges on Thursday against several individuals for aiding the militant al Shabaab group, an al Qaeda-affiliated Somali organization that has gained prominence in recent months.
Two Somali-born U.S. citizens living in Minnesota were arrested earlier on Thursday on charges they raised money for al Shabaab and lied to FBI agents, according to one indictment unsealed in a Minnesota court.
Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan were charged in a 16-count indictment that detailed their efforts to raise money, including going door-to-door in Somali communities in Minnesota and elsewhere in the United States and Canada.
They also held teleconferences to raise funds, sometimes saying the money would be used to help the poor and needy in Somalia. Ali was accused of sending about $8,600 to al Shabaab, according to the indictment.
The Obama administration has been increasingly concerned about al Shabaab, particularly after the group successfully carried out a July suicide bombing attack in Uganda killing more than 70 people, including one American.
The al Shabaab attack in Uganda was the group’s first successful strike outside Somalia.
U.S. prosecutors also unsealed three other indictments, including one from 2009 that charges a young Alabama man who is now believed to be part of al Shabaab’s leadership, Omar Shafik Hammami. He has made videos to recruit fighters to come to Somalia.
“We are seeing an increasing number of individuals, including U.S. citizens, who have become captivated by extremist ideology and have taken steps to carry out terrorist objectives, either at home or abroad,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters.
However, Holder said there were no “direct signs” that al Shabaab was planning attacks in the United States.
The indictments follow the arrest of two other American men in the last few weeks in separate cases on charges they were trying to travel to Somalia to aid al Shabaab. They were arrested before they could leave for Africa.
Somalia has been wracked with violence and has had no effective government control for two decades. Peacekeeping forces have been sent to Somalia but with little success at restoring order.
U.S. prosecutors also unveiled an updated indictment in Minnesota where several Americans already had been charged with going to Somalia to help the militant group. Three additional men were added to that case and accused of conspiring to kill people overseas and supporting the group.
The Justice Department has reached out to Somali communities in the United States to help prevent people going overseas to fight. Officials said the effort had made some progress.
“They have been very helpful because bottom line, it’s their kids who have been recruited and in some cases ended up as casualties in Somalia,” U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Todd Jones told reporters, noting the state had the largest Somali community in the country.
Some 19 people have been charged for ties to al Shabaab by prosecutors in Minnesota. Some are believed to be in Somalia while nine have been arrested and five have pleaded guilty.
The final indictment unsealed was against a California man for allegedly trying to aid al Shabaab, but he too was believed to be in Somalia. (Editing by David Alexander and Philip Barbara)
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