Two Minnesota women accused of funneling money to a terror group in Somalia talked about collecting money for al-Shabab, supporting fighters instead of other charities and the possibility that FBI was listening in on their conversations, according to hours of recorded phone calls played for jurors.
Prosecutors have built the bulk of their case by playing more than 80 phone calls recorded during a 10-month wiretap on the home and cellphones of Amina Farah Ali, 35. In those calls, prosecutors allege, Ali is heard talking to her co-defendant, 64-year-old Hawo Mohamed Hassan, as well as leaders of al-Shabab in Somalia. The calls include recordings of teleconferences in which the women gave religious lectures and collected donations.
Ali and Hassan are accused of being part of a “deadly pipeline” that routed money and fighters from the U.S. to Somalia. The women, U.S. citizens of Somali descent, are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The women have said they were raising money for needy refugees in Somalia.
In one October 2008 call between Ali and Hassan, prosecutors allege that as the two women were discussing where the money should go, Ali said the priority be those who stand up for Islam. “Let the civilians die,” she said. In a Feb. 10, 2009, teleconference, Ali told others, “Let’s forget about the other charities–how about the jihad?”
Ali and Hassan are among 20 people charged in Minnesota’s long-running federal investigations into recruiting and financing for al-Shabab, which the U.S. considers a terror group with ties to al-Qaida. Investigators believe at least 21 men left Minnesota–home to the country’s largest Somali community–to join al-Shabab. Though others have pleaded guilty to related charges, the women are the first to go on trial.
Scott also noted that after the U.S. declared al-Shabab a terror group in February 2008, the FBI made no attempt to “inform her that she should not be sending money to this newly declared foreign terrorist organization.”