(Updates with excerpts from prosecutors’ letter in 10th paragraph.)
July 6 (Bloomberg) -- A Somali man captured by the U.S. military in the Arabian Peninsula region in April and interrogated by the U.S. for more than two months was indicted and accused of providing material support to terrorist groups.
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame is accused of conspiring from 2007 until his arrest to provide money, training, communications equipment and personnel to al-Qaeda and al Shabaab, both designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations, in a federal indictment unsealed yesterday.
Warsame, identified by prosecutors as an al Shabaab leader, allegedly worked to broker a weapons deal with al-Qaeda and taught how to make explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction starting in 2009.
As a result of the interrogations of Warsame, the U.S. “has been able to obtain very valuable intelligence,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said today at a briefing.
Warsame was “detained lawfully,” Carney said, adding that the Red Cross was informed and had the opportunity to interview him.
Warsame arrived in New York yesterday morning, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan. Warsame entered a not guilty plea yesterday before U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in a proceeding closed to the public because the indictment was under seal at the time, said Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for Bharara.
“Ahmed Warsame was a conduit between al Shabaab and al- Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- two deadly terrorist organizations -- providing material support and resources to them both,” Bharara said in a statement.
Priya Chaudhry, a lawyer who represented Warsame at his arraignment, didn’t reply to a voice-mail message left yesterday after regular business hours.
The defendant faces a mandatory term of life in prison if convicted of conspiring to provide material support to a terror group, according to Bharara’s statement.
Warsame was held by U.S. officials for about two months after he was caught, U.S. prosecutors said in a letter to McMahon yesterday.
“During this period, the defendant was interviewed on an all but a daily basis by certain United States officials, who were acting in a non-law-enforcement capacity,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Naftalis and Adam Hickey wrote in the letter.
After a break of four days during which he wasn’t questioned, Warsame was informed of his legal rights. Warsame waived his rights and spoke to law-enforcement agents for about seven days, the prosecutors said.
At the time of Warsame’s capture, U.S. officials seized a laptop computer, a hard drive, two USB thumb drives and a memory card, the prosecutors told McMahon in their letter.
While Warsame was in Yemen in 2010 through this year he received training in military weapons including explosives, according to Bharara’s statement. The U.S. said he possessed and used grenades and an AK-47 assault weapon while in Yemen to commit crimes of violence.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said today that he opposes bringing Warsame to New York. McConnell said Warsame doesn’t deserve the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens and should be tried at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Warsame “is a foreign enemy combatant and he should be treated as one,” McConnell said today on the Senate floor, according to his website. “He should be sitting in a cell in Guantanamo Bay and eventually be tried before a military commission.”
The case is U.S. v. Warsame, 11-CR-559, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
--With assistance from Roger Runningen in Washington and Chris Dolmetsch and Bob Van Voris in New York. Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha.
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