Update at 2:17 p.m: Hinda Osman Dhirane of Kent appeared this afternoon at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue ordered her held pending a detention hearing next Tuesday.
Dhirane is facing 23 counts, one of conspiracy and 22 of providing material support to a foreign terrorist network.
The Associated Press and Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Carter
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Washington state woman and four other people have been charged with funneling money to the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria announced the charges Wednesday. The two women, one from Kent, Wash., and the other from Reston, Va., are charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist network. The U.S. designated al-Shabab as a terrorist group in 2008.
Prosecutors say 44-year-old Hinda Osman Dhirane of Kent and 34-year-old Muna Osman Jama of Reston were arrested in their homes. Dhirane faces an initial appearance Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Seattle.
Three others overseas have also been charged. One is in custody in the Netherlands; the other two are fugitives in Kenya and Somalia.
Prosecutors say the women raised money for al-Shabab using code words like “orphans” to refer to al-Shabab fighters.
According to the Department of Justice, Dhirane and Jama Jama are leaders of an al-Shabaab fundraising conspiracy operating in the U.S., Kenya, the Netherlands, Somalia and elsewhere. Jama was allegedly responsible for sending money to Kenya through overseas defendant Fardowsa Jama Mohamed, while Dhirane was primarily responsible for sending money to Somalia through another overseas defendant, Barira Hassan Abdullahi, according to the charges.
The Seattle area boasts the second-largest Somali population in the U.S., behind Minneapolis-St. Paul. Over the years, the FBI and federal prosecutors have attempted to make in-roads into the community.
In 2009, a Somali-born Roosevelt High School graduate, Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, pleaded guilty in Minnesota to terrorism-related charges in connection with several young Somalis disappearing from their homes and turning up in Somalia fighting for the terrorist organization, al-Shabaab. His attorney said Isse was likely being recruited as a suicide bomber.
That same year, another young Seattle man – whose name has never officially been released – was suspected by the FBI of being one of the men who detonated a truck bomb in Mogadishu which killed 21 people, mostly U.N. peacekeepers. At the time, the FBI said it believed that “outside influences” were at work in Seattle’s Somali community, trying to recruit and radicalize young men to carry out jihad in their homeland.
In 2008, a Seattle man and convert to Islam, Ruben Shumpert, was reportedly killed in a U.S.-supported rocket attack near Mogadishu. Prosecutors said Shumpert fled to Somalia to avoid going to prison here on gun and counterfeiting charges.
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