A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging an Alexandria man with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization operating in Somalia.
According to court documents, Liban Haji Mohamed, 34, a Somali-born naturalized United States citizen, allegedly left the United States in July 2012 with the intent to join al-Shabaab in East Africa. Al-Shabaab is a Somali-based insurgent and terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for many bombings in Somalia and Uganda and is known to have recruited Westerners. According to court documents, Mohamed allegedly attempted to recruit an undercover agent to travel to Somalia to provide combat training to al-Shabaab fighters. Mohamed also allegedly planned to use his own media skills to improve al-Shabaab’s propaganda machine, which it has used to recruit Westerners. Mohamed was a close associate of convicted terrorist Zachary Chesser, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab.
In July 2012, Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, issued a red notice seeking Mohamed as a wanted fugitive. In January 2015, the FBI announced the addition of Mohamed to the “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, and is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Mohamed.
Mohamed is charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.