(NEW YORK) -- Last April in an operation off the coast of Africa, the U.S. military targeted a senior commander with the Al Shabaab terrorist group who acted as an envoy between al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, holding him in secret until Tuesday, when a federal indictment was announced by the Justice Department.
The man, identified as Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, is allegedly a top leader in the al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia, and has been acting as a go-between with al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The latter, Yemen-based group was behind the failed Christmas day bombing of a U.S. Airliner in 2009 and a plot to blow up cargo aircraft last year.
Warsame has been charged in a nine-count federal indictment filed in Manhattan with conspiracy charges, providing material support to Al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, carrying firearms in furtherance in crimes of violence, conspiracy to teach and demonstrate the making of explosives, and receiving military training from AQAP.
Warsame was held on a U.S. Navy vessel and interrogated for intelligence purposes since he was detained by U.S. military special forces, who interdicted him as he returned to Somalia from Yemen on April 19, 2011. According to officials, Warsame was flown into the United States late on Monday night, and made a brief court appearance Tuesday after the indictment was unsealed against him.
In a statement, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “As alleged, Ahmed Warsame was a conduit between al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- two deadly terrorist organizations -- providing material support to them both.”
If convicted of all the charges against him, Warsame could face life in prison.
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