Brooklyn, NY – Three men from Somalia, Ali Yasin Ahmed, Madhi Hashi and Mohamed Yusuf, appeared in Federal District Court here, Dec. 21, on charges of violating U.S. “material support for terrorism” and gun laws. What makes this case different from the dozens of U.S. cases involving Somali men and women in Minnesota, California and other states is that there is no indication the men are U.S. residents or citizens, or that they have ever traveled to the U.S.
The conspiracy to provide “material support to a foreign terrorist organization” stems from their alleged membership in the Somali resistance organization, al Shabaab. Al Shabaab is an Islamic political movement that is fighting the U.S.-backed foreign intervention in Somalia.
The gun charge, according to a Dec. 21 press release form the New York Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, involves the “unlawful use of machine guns” in Somalia.
The case against the three men rests on the dubious legal theory that U.S. laws can be applied anywhere in the world. The New York Times states, “Court documents show no connection between the alleged crimes and the United States.”
Two of the men, Mohamed Yusuf and Ali Yasin Ahmed, lived in Sweden for a time. Madhi Hashi was born in Somalia and grew up in England. The British newspaper, The Independent reported on Dec. 23 that when Hashi lived in London, he was one of a group of young people who said they were pressured by the UK intelligence agency, MI5, to become informants. After his return to Somalia, Hashi’s UK citizenship was revoked.
The Independent says of Hashi, “His family had no idea where he was for five months until he appeared in a New York court on Friday accused of terrorism. Last night, his British lawyer, Saghir Hussain, said: ‘This has all the hallmarks of rendition. It appears the withdrawal of citizenship and the kidnapping by the Americans may have been co-ordinated.’”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims, “In early August 2012, the defendants were apprehended in Africa by local authorities while on their way to Yemen.” On Oct. 18, 2012, a grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned a sealed indictment against the defendants. On Nov. 14, 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation took custody of the defendants and brought them to the Eastern District of New York.”
The Independent quotes Hashi’s father, Mohamed, “’We are not some slaves who can be passed around from one owner to another,’ he said. ‘Why was our son sent to the U.S.? He has been a British citizen for 15 years but then his citizenship was taken away suddenly and now we find out that he’s in New York? Our family had to find out this news from public news sources as no one has contacted us until now. We are very worried about his condition as we have no information. The U.S. have not given our son any rights – we don’t know where he’s being held, how to contact him or how he’s being treated. It is shocking that something like this can be done to someone based on accusations and suspicion only.’”
Among those who announced the charges against the three men Dec. 21 was Raymond Kelly, the Commissioner of New York City Police Department. The NYPD has built a massive intelligence network that spys on Arabs and Muslims around the U.S. It is also setting up satellite offices in other countries.