Al Shabaab's American Recruits
Previous Somali-Related Terror Arrests
Posted: February 1, 2010
Prior to the recent wave of American Muslim extremists traveling to Somalia to join Al Shabaab, a few Americans showed similar interest in supporting terrorist groups in the region.
For example, in July 2007, Daniel J. Maldonado was sentenced to 10 years in prison for training in Somalia with Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a terrorist group that has worked with Al Qaeda to train recruits to fight for an independent Islamic state in Somalia. Maldonado, the first U.S. citizen to be charged with participating in terrorist activities in Somalia, grew up in New Hampshire.
Tarek Mehanna, a Massachusetts man who was charged in 2009 with providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to kill in a foreign country, was also arrested in November 2008 for lying to the FBI about his relationship and contact with Maldonado. According to court documents, the men discussed religious justification for suicide bombing, the killing of civilians and the "glory of dying on the battlefield for Allah." Maldonado has admitted that while he was in Somalia, he called Mehanna and urged him to join the fighting in Somalia.
In 2005, Mark Robert Walker was sentenced to two years in prison for attempting to provide goods and services to the Somali terrorist group Al Ittihad Al Islami (AIAI). AIAI, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, is closely allied with Al Qaeda and, like Al Shabaab, is fighting to establish an Islamic regime in Somalia. During an interview with federal agents after his arrest, Walker, a student at Wyoming Technical College in Laramie, reportedly acknowledged that he was planning to send equipment to the AIAI and that he intended to meet with an individual at the El Paso International Airport to talk about traveling to Somalia. Agents found Kevlar vests and information about ammonium nitrate, nitric acid and weapons in Walker's vehicle at the time of his arrest.