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US Sentences Somali Man for al-Shabab Support

  • VOA News

FILE - Spokesman of Islamist militant group al-Shabab vows to step up attacks against government soldiers, foreign troops, in Mogadishu, 2008.

FILE - Spokesman of Islamist militant group al-Shabab vows to step up attacks against government soldiers, foreign troops, in Mogadishu, 2008.

A U.S. court has sentenced a Somali national to nine years in prison for providing material support to the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

U.S. prosecutors said Mahdi Hashi, who was born in Somalia, had abandoned his home in Britain to return to the country of his birth and join al-Shabab.

Hashi, 26, was sentenced in Brooklyn, New York Friday after pleading guilty in May to conspiring to help support the Islamist group.

The court also sentenced two Swedish citizens last week for working alongside Hashi to help al-Shabab.

Hashi was arrested in 2012 in East Africa and was transferred to the United States for prosecution.

Prosecutors say he was affiliated with American jihadist Omar Hamami and his group of U.S.-born fighters. Hamami was on Washington's most wanted list until he died in a gun battle in 2013.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Friday that al-Shabab seeks to recruit Western fighters because they have the potential to more easily cross international borders.

"Al-Shabab frequently made Western foreign fighters the face of its fundraising and propaganda efforts as part of a broader strategy emphasizing that the conflict in Somali was part of a global jihad aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate."

The group controlled most of southern Somalia as recently as 2010, but was pushed into the countryside by African Union and Somali government forces.

The militants, which have links to al-Qaida carry out frequent attacks, often targeting government officials and African Union troops.

Al-Shabab, which seeks to impose a strict form of Islamic law Somalia, has also carried out attacks outside their borders, including in Kenya and Uganda.

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