March 25th, 2013
06:26 PM ET

Terror figure yields valuable intel

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.

Warsame, now in his mid 20s, faces up to life in prison. A law enforcement official said he could get a lighter sentence if he "provides substantial assistance" to the United States.

"The capture of Ahmed Warsame and his lengthy interrogation for intelligence purposes, followed by his thorough questioning by law enforcement agents, was an intelligence watershed," said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the United States "continues to make active use of the information" Warsame provided and his "cooperation has been and continues to be enormously valuable."

The Justice Department would not disclose specifics about Warsame's cooperation.

Although his arrest was known, court proceedings and documents were under seal until Monday.

John Carlin, acting assistant attorney general for national security, added that Warsame was a link between terror groups and was "an operational leader, commanding hundreds of fighters."

Court papers showed that from 2007 until his capture, Warsame conspired with others, including some Americans, to provide material support to al-Shabaab and fought as a soldier for the group.

Warsame also had an extensive relationship with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group allegedly behind the failed Christmas 2009 bombing attempt of a Delta Air Lines jet heading to Detroit.

Court papers said Warsame brokered a weapons deal so that al-Shabaab could get arms directly from the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. He also conspired to provide various forms of material support, including money, training, personnel and communications equipment, to that al Qaeda branch.

Warsame also received training in how to use explosives and other weapons from al Qaeda in 2010 and 2011 and planned to train other al-Shabaab members once he returned to Somalia, documents showed.

The government gave its justification for keeping Warsame's guilty plea and cooperation secret in a March 2012 court filing.

"At this stage, any public confirmation that the defendant has pleaded guilty, in a case which attracts media attention, is likely to be widely reported and, as a result, is likely to undermine the ability for the government to further investigate and prosecute associates of the defendant and to pose a threat to the safety of his family abroad," the document said.

"Public confirmation that the defendant is cooperating on an ongoing basis could lead those associates to destroy evidence (including, for example, any e-mail messages or other communications) or to flee or otherwise change their patterns of behavior and communication," the document said.

That document also said the government was interviewing him weekly in "regular, multi-hour proffer sessions." It said his co-conspirators include "high-level, international terrorist operatives."

Lee Alan Ginsberg, a lawyer for Warsame, had no comment on the matter.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Al-Shabaab • Intelligence • Security Brief • Somalia • Terrorism • Yemen
soundoff (43 Responses)
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  29. George Patton

    Water board him more.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Reply
    • Kerry

      Another idiotic comment from another lame brained Tea Partier, using Gen. George Patton's name. The clown who posted the above apparently feels no shame in disgracing this general's name!

      March 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Reply
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    March 25, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  32. chrissy

    If you torture someone enough, they'll say almost anything to get it stopped. I guess that those goons are glad enough to get the information he provided. Now his future isn't worth a lead nickle!

    March 25, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Good posting, chrissy. Thank you.

      March 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      And murdering innocent people for a false profit had such a great future?

      March 26, 2013 at 7:00 am | Reply
    • motivatortom

      Oh gee. And he was such a nice guy too! And he had no idea what he was getting himself into! I feel really bad that he might now get free some day and not be able to move back to the idyllic lands of Somalia or Yemen and that his ex-bff's might want to kill him all because he stopped being a terrorist who just wanted to kill innocents. It's just awful what we're asking him to do to obtain freedom. I am so ashamed.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:09 am | Reply
    • RetiredVet

      Chrissy nowhere in the article said that he was tortured, he was interrogated, which means he was thoroughly questioned by authorities in New York. If you read the article you would have seen that.
      Since you and George Patton 2 are terrorist sympathizers, why don't you just leave the country?
      Another question for you, what do you have against the US military personnel?

      March 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
    • Concerned Citizen of the Earth

      Anyone who believes that the United States got any terrorist to divulge information without torture is drinking the kool-aid as the Americans say.

      In the Nobel Qur'an under Surat Al Buruj 85-10; Indeed, those who have tortured the believing men and believing women and then have not repented will have the punishment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the Burning Fire.

      and

      Muhsin Khan: Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women (by torturing them and burning them), and then do not turn in repentance, (to Allah), will have the torment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the burning Fire.

      All this wrong doing that the zionist infidels are perpetrating against innocent Muslims will come back to rest on their heads. An old American saying comes to my mind... Someday, the chickens will come home to roost... Although I always believed if my chickens were to come home to roost it would be a good thing as you have not lost any, apparently there it is not!

      March 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Reply
      • me

        Another Taliban sympathizer at work here, same two choices, death or incarceration.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • Kerry

        Well stated, Concerned Citizen of the Earth. Thank you.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

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