Somali Man Charged With Being A Conduit between Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda
By Ellen Cannon
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali citizen captured in April and interrogated aboard a U.S. warship for two months, was indicated on July 5, 2011 in New York. The nine counts against him include providing money, training, communications equipment and personnel to al-Shabaab , and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Warsame thought to be a mid- leader in al- Shabaab who since 2009 “worked to broker a deal with al Qaeda and was involved in teaching and demonstrating how to make explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction. He is also thought to have received military training from al Qaeda in Yemen in 2010 and 2011. He is also accused of teaching explosive making. Al Shabaab is considered the most dangerous affiliate of Al-Qaeda. Al Qaeda and al Shabaab were both designated foreign terrorist groups by the U.S. Department of State in 2008.
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was captured by the U.S. military in the Gulf on April 19. According to Modern Ghana News, he was kept secretly aboard a US Navy ship at sea, where he faced questioning by U.S. interrogators and senior advisors, for “intelligence purposes” for more than two months. (www.modernghana.com/print/338285/1/al-queda-linked-somali-man-charged-in-news.July 5, 2011) According to reports by the Wall Street Journal on July 6, 2011, Mr. Warsame was questioned by the High-Value Interrogation Group, led by the FBI and includes members of the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency. During this period he was not read his Miranda rights.
Following this period a separate FBI “clean team” interviewed Mr. Warsame again for evidence that can be used in a possible trail. At this point Mr. Warsame waived his Miranda rights and continued to speak with officials about the inner workings of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its relation to Al-Shabaab. This particular information is critical to U.S. intelligence professionals and senior officials as it reveals details of the terror realignments in Yemen between these two terror groups preceding and following the death of Bin Laden.
SenatorMark Kirk(R-IL) has been leading the Senate in examining the link between dangerous Somali pirates and the funding of Al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate Al-Shabaab. He spent a week in Africa talking with U.S. Embassy officials, African governments, and Chinese naval officers and the jailed pirates.
Pirates in Somalia, according to Senator Mark Kirk, “are a critical source of billions of dollars for Somalia based terrorists, notably to Al Queda affiliate Al Shabaab.” This money funds terrorist training camps in Somalia. According to Kirk, these pirates are holding 483 hostages and 23 ships. The cost of pirate ransom, insurance, and the growing military response is up to $12 billion annually. The enormity of the problem is substantiated by the Kenyan government. Kenya estimates that more than 30% of ransoms paid to pirates-over $50 million- have been funneled to the largest terror training camps in the world run by Somalia’s East African Al Queda/Al Shabaab organization. (http:kirk.senate.gov/?p-press_released&id=189 and Ellen Cannon, “Minnesota’s Links to Al-Shabaab and Pirates: Sen: Kirk Demands Action,joltleft.com June 13, 2011)
Senator Kirk told the Chicago Sun Times, that “Over the last three years, the number of attacks on vessels including super-tankers, in a region that is the shipping lane for 70 percent of the world’s oil have increased three fold while the average ransom has soared to $5.4 million per ship. (Steve Huntley, “Times to get tough with Somali pirates, May 10, 2011)
This case is both politically sensitive and charged. It marks the first case that the administration secretly held and questioned a terror suspect aboard a warship. Debates are presently raging in political and legal circles as well as human rights circles, as to where hold terrorist trials. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder strongly favors trying indicted terrorists in civilian courts, while several top Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell(R-KY) and Senator Rand Paul favor sending detainees to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a military tribunal. (Ellen Cannon, “KY’s terrorism case pits Sen. McConnell against A.G. Holder”,joltleft.com ,June 13, 2011 and Ellen Cannon, ‘Senator Paul Says VSP Program :putting U.S. In Grave Danger”, joltleft.com June 26, 2011)
According to Matt Apuzzo, “The unusual case against Warsame was foreshadowed in congressional testimony late last month when Obama’s pick to become commander of the Special Operations Command, Navy Vice Admiral, William McRaven, told senators that the U.S. could hold suspected terrorists on naval ships until prosecutors file charges against them. McRaven did not say exactly how long that detention could last. (www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/05)
This debate over civilian v. military tribunal, is also currently in play in Bowling Green, Kentucky. A Grand Jury in Bowling Green recently charged two men, Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohaandad Shareef Hammadi with conspiring to send weapons and money to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Kentucky’s two U.S. Senators, along with state and local officials have urged the trial be moved from Kentucky to Gitmo for reasons of security, cost, and potential disruptions. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder disagrees arguing that of the hundreds of convictions against terrorists in civilian court, sentences are stiffer than in military tribunals and no terrorist has ever escaped or caused community disruptions.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara stated in court on July 5 that “our number one priority is protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism.” This objective is all the more important since the unrolling of the administration’s latest foreign policy framework in which preventing attacks against the homeland on American soil is considered the primary new focus and objective.(Ellen Cannon, “U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Responds to Continued Al-Qaeda Threat,”joltleft.com July 1, 2011)
The case involving Mr.Warsame – U.S. V. Warsame- is of primary importance to U.S. intelligence agencies. Efforts at specifically linking Al-Shabbab to Al Queda in Yemen can provide the U.S. with a better understanding of the kinds of threats the U.S. potentially faces from Yemen’s Al Queda in the Arabian Peninusla.
If found guilty, Mr. Warsame faces a mandatory term of life in prison.