By Carol Cratty
A former top leader of a Somali terror group, who also had ties to al Qaeda, secretly pleaded guilty in 2011 to federal charges and has provided the U.S. government with valuable intelligence information, the Justice Department said on Monday.
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was a leader of al-Shabaab in Somalia and arranged a weapons deal at one time with Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to court documents.
The U.S. military captured him at sea in April 2011 while he was traveling from Yemen to Somalia. He pleaded guilty in New York the following December to nine terrorism charges.
Among other things, Warsame admitted to conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab and al Qaeda's operation in the Arabian Peninsula, conspiracy to teach others how to make bombs, and receiving miltary-type training from a terrorist organization.
By Elise Labott
The State Department has put a multimillion-dollar bounty on the heads of two Americans who the United States claims belong to an al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, CNN has learned.
Posters and matchbooks in Somali and English emblazoned with the names and pictures of Omar Shafik Hammami and Jehad Serwan Mostafa tout rewards up to $5 million each for information leading to their arrest or conviction. Both men are on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List.
The rewards are being offered through the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program.
Hammami and Mostafa are members of Al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, and "have made significant contributions to this terrorist organization's media and military activities," according to a State Department statement on the rewards, obtained by CNN. They are both are believed to be in Somalia and speak English, Arabic and Somali.
A senior FBI official said the United States has information that both men "had a persistent interest in targeting U.S. interests" and are "believed to be involved in planning attacks on U.S. persons or property." But it is unclear what specific attacks against Americans, even ones that have been thwarted, these men have taken part in. Officials said that information is classified.
Hammami, a 29-year-old Alabama native, moved to Somalia in 2006. The State Department claims he joined Al-Shabaab there and received training from Islamic militants, rising through the organization's ranks to command a contingent of foreign fighters. Officials say he was also a "propagandist" for the group, helping to recruit English-speaking youth through writings, rap songs and video statements. FULL POST
By CNN Staff
U.S. troops lent "limited technical support" in France's bloody and unsuccessful bid in Somalia to rescue an intelligence agent who'd been held hostage for years, President Barack Obama said Sunday.
Obama detailed the U.S. military involvement in the Friday night mission in a letter sent to the leaders of the nation's two legislative chambers. The letter was released publicly as well.
While U.S. forces "provided limited technical support," they "took no direct part in the assault on the compound where it was believed the French citizen was being held hostage," the president explained.
By Larry Shaughnessy
It turns out al Qaeda has the same problem as ordinary companies with employees who spout off on the Internet, making their bosses look bad.
Al-Shabaab, the Somali branch of al Qaeda, booted Abu Mansour al-Amriki out of the group after he posted video messages contrary to the terrorist organization's teachings.
Al-Amriki, who was born Omar Hammami in a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, had become a highly visible member of the group that once dominated central and southern Somalia.
For a time, al-Amriki was a key recruiter for the group, attracting Americans of Somali heritage to the country to fight for the terrorist group.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Stevan Weine is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Testimony after Catastrophe: Narrating the Traumas of Political Violence.
By Stevan Weine, Special for CNN
The Obama administration has begun preparing the public for a prolonged war on terrorism that will extend well into the future.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke of an "enduring presence" in Afghanistan to fight terror threats. And the Pentagon's top lawyer said recently the United States will use every tool in its arsenal as al Qaeda continues to operate through affiliates in countries, like Iraq, Mali and Nigeria.
While much attention is paid to lethal efforts, not discussed as much is a broad policy directive undertaken by the Obama administration since 2011 to try to stop terrorism in the United States through influencing attitudes.
Through this policy, the U.S. government engages communities in America under the threat of al Qaeda-inspired violent extremism and develops community-based solutions.
Behind this policy is the widespread concern among Americans over how to prevent homegrown violent extremism and the knowledge that some Muslim-American communities in the United States have been targeted by terrorist recruiters.
By emphasizing building community resilience, this policy underlines the positive attributes of Muslim-American communities often stigmatized in the United States. Doing so has helped open the door to stronger community-government collaboration focused on prevention of violent radicalization. FULL POST
By Larry Shaughnessy
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spelled out the future battle against al Qaeda, praising what has been done so far but warning much more work remains.
Speaking about the September 11 attacks in a speech at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, Panetta said, "We will do everything possible to ensure that such an attack never happens again. That means counterterrorism will continue as a key mission for our military and intelligence professionals as long as violent extremists pose a direct threat to the United States."
He said efforts against the core al Qaeda group have been largely successful. "Al Qaeda's leadership ranks have been decimated. This includes the loss of four of al Qaeda's five top leaders in the last 2½ years alone - Osama bin Laden, Shaikh Saeed al-Masri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Abu Yahya al-Libi."
An American from Alabama wanted for aiding Somalia-based terrorists was added to the FBI's "most wanted terrorists" list Wednesday.
Omar Shafik Hammami, 28, was indicted in Alabama five years ago for traveling to Somalia to assist al-Shabaab, which the U.S. has designated a foreign terrorist organization.
Hammani, a U.S. citizen, is believed to be in Somalia now and should be considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said.
The FBI also added Raddulan Sahiron, a Filipino wanted for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of an American in the Philippines in 1993, to the "most wanted terrorists" list.
Sahiron allegedly worked with Al Harakat al Islamiyyah, also known as the Abu Sayyaf group, to kidnap an American from his home in the Philippines on November 14, 1993, the FBI said.
By Carol Cratty
A Chicago man who planned to travel to Somalia to fight for a terrorist group pleaded guilty on Monday to terrorism-related charges.
Shaker Masri, a 28-year old U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support for Al-Shabaab, a group he knew the United States had designated as a foreign terrorist organization, according to prosecutors.
In his plea agreement, Masri said that on July 19, 2010, he told an associate he "wanted to travel to a conflict zone to engage in jihadist fighting" and that he had the choice of going to Afghanistan to help al Qaeda or travel to Somalia to aid Al-Shabaab. Masri told his associate he had decided to go to Somalia but he needed money.
By Jamie Crawford
President Barack Obama has targeted the export of charcoal from war-torn Somalia, the sales of which help finance an al Qaeda-affiliated group, the State Department said Friday.
Through an amendment to an already existing executive order, Obama signed on to a resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council earlier this year that banned Somali exports of charcoal.
"The charcoal ban applies significant pressure on Al-Shabaab, which derives much of its income from charcoal exports," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a written statement. "The production of charcoal in Somalia has also had a devastating environmental impact that has exacerbated the country's protracted humanitarian crisis."
Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist group that operates in southern Somalia, announced its affiliation with al Qaeda earlier this year and pledged its loyalty to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's leader.
By Wesley Bruer
An American man's efforts to become a suicide bomber for the Somali al Qaeda affiliate will end next week with an expected guilty plea.
Shaker Masri, 27, a U.S. citizen and Chicago resident, faced two counts of terror-related charges. He opted to plea in lieu of standing trial on September 13.
A close reading of the indictment and other court documents reveal how Masri's plot unfolded.