A Somali and two Swedish citizens pleaded guilty in a New York court Tuesday to conspiring to provide support to al-Shabaab, the Somali-based organization linked to al Qaeda.
According to the Justice Department’s charges, 25-year-old Somali Madhi Hashi and Swedish citizens Ali Yasin Ahmed, 30, and Mohamed Yusuf, 32, served as members of the group from 2008 to 2012 and attempted to recruit others to join their cause. All three men are originally from Somalia.
The guilty pleas Tuesday came hours before the court was reportedly scheduled to begin jury selection.
Yusuf and Ahmed joined al-Shabaab in its fight against African Union forces, the Justice Department said. Yusuf was also allegedly featured in an al-Shabaab propaganda video called “Inspire the Believers,” which the government had sought to prove by using advanced voice recognition software, according to the New York Daily News. Had the case proceeded to a trial, it would have been the first time the evidence was ever used in a U.S. federal court.
Hashi, meanwhile, was alleged to be a “close associate” of an American jihadist who was killed by al-Shabaab in 2013, Omar Hammami, and have ties to an al-Shabaab suicide bomber.
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SOURCE: The Hill, Julian Hattem