More arrests follow terror indictment
August 5, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Fourteen people have been charged with operating what the government called a "deadly pipeline" of men and money to terrorists in Somalia.
These indictments follow Wednesday's arrest of a Chicagoan linked to the same Somalia terror group.
Federal agents say Chicagoan Shaker Masri was headed to a suicide mission in Somalia, orchestrated by the same violent extremist group there that allegedly recruited 14 Americans charged in Thursday's case.
The terrorist group is called al-Shabab. U.S. law enforcement officials in Chicago and elsewhere say the group has ties to al-Qaeda and poses threats to Americans overseas and at home.
An internet video touting al-Shabab training operations in Somalia is one of the tools being used to solicit young Muslims in the U.S and bring them overseas to be fighters.
"The fact that they have successfully tried to recruit Americans to fight there, and the fact that they have expanded their range of operations to Uganda, gives us pause, and it is one of the things that we are monitoring," said Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general.
Omar Hammami appears in terror recruiting videos and is atop the list of those charged Thursday. Hammami is a U.S. citizen -- now fugitive -- believed to be currently in Somalia fighting under the name Abu Mansour al-Amriki." He produced the internet videos, including one called "Blow by Blow" that has been seen thousands of times on YouTube.
"He has made those videos, and those are of concern and why it's particularly important that a recent effort done by the Muslim community to counter the message that Hummami spewing was so important," Holder said. "We are talking about a fringe part of the community that has to be understood for what they are: People who are trying to kill innocents, trying to kill innocent Muslims and those identified as Westerners, and we will hold them accountable for their actions."
Al-Amriki, which means "the American," was born and raised in Alabama. He is 26 years old, the same age as Shaker Masri, the Chicago man charged in Wednesday's Somalia terror case.
Not only are the two men the same age, federal authorities say both are from Alabama. It is unclear whether they knew each other, but al-Amriki has personally recruited dozens of young Muslim men from the U.S to join the terror group.
The FBI in Chicago arrested Masri this week before he could board a plane and head to Somalia.
"There are certain hooks that they can draw people into, and they have been used, and that is a concern for us, and that's probably the underlying basis for any success that we've had with our Somali community on the community outreach front," said B. Todd Jones, U.S. attorney from Minnesota.
Several of those charged Thursday are from Minnesota. That state has the nation's largest Somali population.
The head of the National Counterterrorism Center has told Congress that the terrorist training camps in Somalia are now attracting hundreds of violent jihadists, and that the most significant concern is that the Americans will take what they learned there and bring it back home.
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