MINNEAPOLIS -- A 24-year-old St. Anthony man has been indicted on terrorism-related charges in the federal investigation into the departures of young Somali men who left Minnesota to fight with a terror group in Somalia, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
Omer Abdi Mohamed is the seventh person to face charges in the ongoing investigation. He was indicted Tuesday on counts of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure.
The indictment suggests that as part of the conspiracy, Mohamed -- also known as Brother Omer or Galeyr -- helped some of the men travel to Somalia.
Mohamed was arrested at his house Thursday morning without incident and made his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis that afternoon.
"It's a significant step in the progress of our case," FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson said.
As many as 20 young Somali men have left the Twin Cities over the last two years for Somalia, and are believed to have joined the terror group al-Shabab. At least three have died.
Mohamed's attorney, Peter Wold, said after Thursday's hearing that Mohamed did not travel to Somalia himself, but knew some of the men who did.
He would not say what Mohamed is specifically accused of doing.
The indictment alleges that from September 2007 to the present, Mohamed conspired with others to provide "financial support and personnel" knowing they would be used "in preparation for and in carrying out" terroristic acts in a foreign country.
It suggests that starting in September 2007, Mohamed supported travel to Somalia by several men, "in furtherance of the conspiracy."
Those men include: Shirwa Ahmed, who carried out a suicide bombing in October 2008; Salah Osman Ahmed, Kamal Said Hassan and Abdifatah Isse, who have returned and pleaded guilty to terror-related charges, admitting they spent time in an al-Shabab training camp; and Ahmed Ali Omar and Khlaid Mohamud Abshir, whose whereabouts are unknown.
The indictment says these six men all traveled to Somalia between Dec. 4 and Dec. 12, 2007.
Wold said in court that his client had been "the subject" of a federal investigation for several months for alleged activity in 2007, but that he hasn't been involved in any alleged activity since December 2007.
Many members of Minneapolis' Somali community have said some of the men might have gone back to the country they left when they were toddlers out of patriotism, to protect their homeland from the invading Ethiopian army.
Mohamed told federal Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel he had recently been laid off from a state job as an employment counselor. His wife attended the hearing with the couple's infant son, born Sept. 30. Mohamed is not a U.S. citizen but is a legal resident.
A handful of others attended the hearing to support Mohamed. Isse Hussein, Mohamed's second cousin, said he was surprised to hear of the arrest. He said Mohamed is a "nice guy" who prays at the mosque and wouldn't hurt anyone.
Noel set a Nov. 24 hearing for Mohamed's arraignment, and said Thursday that he could be released under certain conditions.
Other men charged in connection with the investigation include Adarus Abdulle Ali, who has pleaded guilty to perjury, and Abdow M. Abdow, who has pleaded not guilty to lying to the FBI.
Another Minneapolis man, Mohamud Said Omar, was arrested earlier this month in the Netherlands, accused of financing the purchase of weapons for Islamic militants and helping others travel to Somalia in 2007 and 2008.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a socialist dictator and then turned on each other, causing chaos in the African nation of 7 million.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)