Terror alert as US uncovers Somali human smuggling ring

Federal authorities have issued a terror alert to Texas authorities to be on the lookout for a man believed to have recently crossed, or to be planning on crossing, into the US from the Mexican border. The man, Mohamed Ali, is a suspected member of the Somali-based terror group al Shabaab.

The alert follows a recently unsealed indictment in a Texas federal court which claims that a Somali immigrant, Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, has been operating a human smuggling ring that has facilitated the eventual crossing of hundreds of Somali immigrants into the US via Brazil to Mexico. From Fox News:

Many of the illegal immigrants, who court records say were given fake IDs, are alleged to have ties to other now-defunct Somalian terror organizations that have merged with active organizations like Al Shabaab, al-Barakat and Al-Ittihad Al-Islami.

Law enforcement officials have also found that Mexican smugglers are instructing the Somali immigrants on how to dress, and how to sound Latino by teaching them Spanish phrases; some Somalis are even changing their names to appear Hispanic.

“There have been a number of certain communities that have noticed this, villages in northern Mexico where Middle Easterners try to move into town and learn Spanish,” homeland security expert Joan Neuhaus Schaan told Fox News.

The indictment sheds light on a possibly more substantial border threat to the US than the criminal or economic impact of illegal immigration. This new threat has not yet received much media attention, but the threat is real. As revealed in the indictment, when asked if he or his family members had ever belonged to any groups in their home country, the defendant Dhanke

… falsely omitted that, from on or about, prior to September 11, 2001, the exact date unknown, to on or about January 2003, the defendant was a member or was associated with al-Barakat, an organization that the defendant knew was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on November 11, 2001… and the defendant was a member or associated with Al-Ittihad Al-Islami (AIAI) an organization that the defendant knew was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on September 23, 2001….

After claiming to have arrived in the US by way of Dubai, Russia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Guatamala, and Mexico, Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane was charged with two counts of perjury for lying on his asylum application. According to the indictment, the defendant falsely made a statement that

… the defendant then and there knew was false, in that, from on or about June 2006 until his entry into the United States after leaving Brazil in March 2008, the Defendant had resided in Brazil and participated in and later ran a large-scale smuggling enterprise out of Brazil where most of his clientele consisted of East Africans attempting to get into the United States and which enterprise smuggled hundreds of people from Brazil into the United States, including smuggling or attempting to smuggle several AIAI-affiliated Somalis into the United States.

These developments are reminiscent of the 2007 case of Daniel Maldonado, who was captured at a terrorist training camp in Somalia and transferred back to Houston to stand trial. Maldonado was the first US citizen to be charged with taking an active role in terrorism in Somalia. Maldonado’s intention was to fight abroad or carry out a suicide attack, but when senior al Shabaab members realized he was an American, he was urged to carry out attacks in the US.

Since the Maldonado case, Mohamed Ali and Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane are not the only Somalis being sought by investigators. The disappearance of a group of young Somali-Americans in 2008 and 2009 from Minnesota left authorities baffled, until the report came that a young Somali named Shirwa Ahmed had rammed a car full of explosives into an African Union base, killing himself and 29 others in Somalia. Ahmed is believed to be the first US citizen to carry out a suicide bombing, stoking fears that a number of other Somali-Americans could share the same intentions.

The question as to whether Mohamed Ali is trying to enter the US as an operative or as a recruiter, or both, is yet to be determined.

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5 Comments

  • JT says:

    Last I heard, the border with Mexico included more than Texas.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    It’s a worrisome issue up here in Mpls-St. Paul as the large Somali community here has fed some young suicide bombers/jihadis back into Somalia. It’s not a stretch to think that the same element might undertake a terror operation here as well.

  • kp says:

    JT: This particular org is clearly running a particular route from Mexico into the US via Texas The advice to “look for bad guys everywhere” is not particularly helpful. Narrowing down the search area is much more helpful. These smuggling groups have particular routes and safe houses along those routes. That’s rather difficult to change on short notice.

  • kp says:

    So is this person, a Somali US resident on his way from France to Mexico, one of the “persons of interest” in this group.

    //www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/man-who-caused-grounding-of-transatlantic-flight-faces-loss-of-us-residency/article1589796/

    The capture and handover to the is interesting because the fligh from France to Mexico was diverted to Canada then the person was immediately handed over to the US and held on immigration charges.
    Some paragraphs run together to defeat the comment parser

    Mr. Gaal was returned to the United States yesterday where he was questioned by [Department of Homeland Security] officials,”

  • Charu says:

    Somalis and Pakistanis appear to be the 2 Muslim immigrant communities in the US that are particularly susceptible to the cries of jihad. Is this just a matter of numbers, in that there are more immigrants from these two countries than from, say, Yemen or Afghanistan or Bosnia? Or something to do with the strength of Al Qaeda in these countries? Or both?

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis