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3 Somalis Plead Guilty of Conspiring to Aid Al-Shabab

FILE - A Somali soldier stands near a vehicle destroyed by a suicide car bomb attack south of Mogadishu, Somalia — an attack that followed the killing of al-Shabab's top leader in a U.S. airstrike, Sept. 8, 2014.

Three Somali men pleaded guilty in a New York courtroom Tuesday of conspiring to help the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group al-Shabab.

Their pleas came as jury selection was about to get under way for their trial. By pleading guilty, the three avoided possible lifetime prison terms and will now serve up to 15 years behind bars.

Two of the suspects, Ali Yassin Ahmed and Mohamed Yusuf, are Swedish citizens. The third, Madhi Hashi, lived in Britain before his British citizenship was revoked.

They were charged with traveling to Somalia to fight with al-Shabab and conspiring to provide support for the group.

Authorities in Djibouti arrested the three in 2012 after they entered from Somalia on their way to Yemen. They were turned over to U.S. authorities after the FBI determined that they were part of a bigger plot to harm Americans.