Chicago Man Sentenced for Trying to Aid Somali Terrorists

A Chicago man who admitted that he tried to aid the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, was sentenced to nine years and 10 months in prison by a U.S. judge.

Shaker Masri was arrested in August 2010 and accused of trying to provide material support to al-Shabaab and attempting to disguise that support. He pleaded guilty to the first count in July, under an agreement that called for the prison sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago.

Masri in July 2010 unwittingly told a government informant that he had decided to take part in a jihad in Somalia or Afghanistan and to volunteer for a suicide mission, according to prosecutors. The informant told Masri he would help pay for his trip, provided they went together. Masri agreed. They planned a trip from Chicago to Somalia via Los Angeles and Mexico, according to court documents.

“Shaker Masri wanted to take the lives of human beings -- including his own -- to wreak havoc and advance a terrorist agenda,” Gary S. Shapiro, the acting U.S. attorney for Chicago, said in a statement. “Today’s sentence ensures that those who would lend support to terrorist organizations will be punished.”

Terrorist Organization

Al-Shabaab is classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government. The State Department has said many of the group’s senior leaders are believed to have trained and fought with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, according to the original criminal complaint against Masri. Attempting to provide material support to such a group carries a top penalty of 15 years in prison.

Masri told the informant in July 2010 that once they embarked on their journey, they would be “wanted men,” according to the plea agreement.

Masri bought tickets for a one-way flight from Chicago to Los Angeles. He was arrested in August 2010 after he and the informant bought a new laptop computer for the trip, according to prosecutors.

The Alabama-born Masri was raised outside the U.S., prosecutors said when he was arrested.

The case is U.S. v. Masri, 10-cr-655, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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