Al-Shabaab Operative Gets Prison for Helping Terror Group

An Eritrean man who admitted to receiving military training and aiding the al-Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia was sentenced by a federal judge in Manhattan to nine years and three months in prison.

Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, 38, who pleaded guilty in June to two counts of conspiracy, faced as long as 10 years in prison under nonbinding U.S. sentencing guidelines.

Ahmed, an Eritrean native who moved to Sweden as a child before going to Somalia, was arrested in Nigeria in 2009 and brought to the U.S. the following year, prosecutors said.

He admitted to contributing about 3,000 euros ($3,835) to al-Shabaab and was trained to make and detonate bombs while he was in Somalia, prosecutors said.

Al-Shabaab seeks to destabilize the Somali government and drive foreign troops out of the country, the U.S. said. The group has recruited foreign fighters, including some from the U.S., according to federal prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Benjamin Naftalis and John Cronan said that when Ahmed was taken into U.S. custody and interviewed by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, he admitted he wanted to “make jihad.”

Prosecutors said Nigerian authorities found a copy of an al-Qaeda training manual in the room where Ahmed had been staying before his arrest. Stamps on his passport confirmed he had traveled from Sweden to Africa via Iran “in order to wage deadly jihad.”

‘Foreign Occupation’

Sabrina Shroff, a lawyer for Ahmed, said her client didn’t deserve the 10-year prison term sought by the U.S. because he never engaged in terrorist acts against the U.S. and never intended to do so.

“He sought training in order to participate in a military struggle against foreign occupation in his African homeland,” Shroff said in court papers.

Shroff said her client never joined any fighting on behalf of al-Shabaab. She said others convicted of aiding the group have been sentenced to terms shorter than the 10-year term the U.S. had sought.

The case is U.S. v. Ahmed, 10-00131, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net

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

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