MIAMI (Reuters) - A U.S. citizen and a foreign national were charged in federal court in Miami on Tuesday with providing financing and recruits to al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations fighting in Syria and other places.
Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed, a 30-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in India, and Mohamed Hussein Said, a 25-year-old Kenyan, were arraigned on a 15-count indictment charging them with links to three U.S.-designated terrorist organizations that have operated in Iraq, Syria and Somalia.
Both men, who were arrested in Saudi Arabia and turned over to U.S. custody last week, pleaded not guilty and were ordered held without bond pending trial.
“They both requested trial by jury, “ said Silvia Beatriz Pinera-Vazquez, a lawyer for Hussein Said.
The men are accused of having used Western Union to wire a total of $96,000 to an al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, which is fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, and al Shabaab, a militant group fighting to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law on Somalia.
“There is overwhelming evidence that each of these defendants participated in securing money to support terrorist organizations overseas,” said U.S. Attorney Ricardo Del Toro.
Del Toro outlined how for at least two years an undercover agent had maintained an online relationship with Mohammed, posing as a formerly imprisoned al Qaeda fighter.
“The money was to help Said in getting fighters out of Africa and into Syria,” Del Toro said.
The men have also been accused of recruiting or trying to recruit individuals overseas to join rebels linked to al Qaeda.
Del Toro told the court that Said had provided copies of passports for three “terrorists” he said were willing and available to go to Syria, and said one of the men was linked to the Bella Vista bar bombing in Mombasa in May 2012 and another was tied to the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998.
The case is being prosecuted in Miami because some of the Western Union wire transfers were sent to a Florida-based undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Writing by Tom Brown; Editing by Toni Reinhold