Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Minnesota trial for woman accused of aiding Somali group

MINNEAPOLIS - One of two Minnesota women facing charges of raising money for the al Qaeda-affiliated Somali set al-Shabaab, was cited for contempt after refusing to stand on Monday as a federal judge entered the courtroom.

Amina Farah Ali, who became a U.S. citizen in 2004 and lived in Rochester, Minnesota, cited religious grounds for refusing to stand when Chief Judge Michael Davis entered the courtroom for the start of jury assortment in her trial.

Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, who became a U.S. citizen in 2008 and also lived in Rochester, face numerous federal charges each for supposedly raising more than $8,600 for al-Shabaab from September 2008 to July 2009. The U.S. had chosen al-Shabaab a terrorist group months before in February 2008.

Ali and Hassan are accused of communicating with al-Shabaab persons in Somalia and in turn going door-to-door in Somali communities in Rochester, Minneapolis and elsewhere to raise money and holding teleconferences to solicit support.

The defendants starved of raising money for the group, saying it was planned for the poor and needy. The indictment accuses Ali of saying on two conference calls that the priority was support for the Mujahadin or Jihad, not the needy.

Ali was prearranged removed from the courtroom, temporarily delaying the start of jury selection and later returned to the courtroom, court officials said. Ali, who had been free on bail, was being detained on the contempt charge.

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