July 14, 2009 / 12:27 AM / 9 years ago

Two indicted in Minnesota on Somali terror charges

MINNEAPOLIS, July 13 (Reuters) - A federal grand jury in Minneapolis indicted two men on Monday on charges of conspiracy and aiding terrorism overseas, according to court papers.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune said on Monday that one of the men, Salah Osman Ahmed, 26, is of Somali descent and lived in a Minneapolis suburb.

According to the indictment, Ahmed and Abdifatah Yusuf Isse were charged with two counts of providing material support to terrorists "and resources, namely personnel including themselves," and conspiring "to kill, kidnap, and maim and injure persons outside of the United States" between September 2007 and December 2008.

Ahmed was also charged with two counts of making false statements about a flight he took from Minneapolis to Amsterdam on Dec. 6, 2007, and bound for Somalia.

Ahmed "stated that he did not know anyone on his flight to Somalia in December 2007 when, in fact, he traveled to Somalia together with an individual he knew so that they could fight jihad in Somalia," the indictment said.

The Star Tribune said that Ahmed told federal court he worked as a part-time security guard making $800 a month. The judge ruled that he qualified for a federal public defender.

After the hearing, federal officials would not comment on whether Ahmed’s case was connected to the investigation into the disappearance of up to 20 local men of Somali descent, the newspaper said.

Ahmed is scheduled to appear again in court on Thursday afternoon.

Local media reports have said the men returned to their families’ homeland to fight in an ongoing civil war in Somalia. At least four of the men have been killed there, the Star Tribune reported on Monday.

Omar Jamal, executive director of a local group, the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, told reporters outside the court that he thought the two men indicted were "foot soldiers."

Jamal has said U.S. probes into Somali immigrants in the U.S. aiding the conflict in Somalia has hurt U.S. disaster relief to the African nation.

"I‘m relieved. We want this case to come to an end. I expect more indictments very soon," Jamal told Reuters.

(Reporting by Todd Melby, writing by Peter Bohan, editing by Philip Barbara)

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