Washington: A series of arrests in the US this week have highlighted the government`s growing concern over US citizens providing assistance to foreign terrorist organisations like Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.
As the Justice Department announced charges on Thursday against 14 people in three US states with ties to Al Shabaab, Attorney General Eric Holder said: "These indictments and arrests... shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to Al-Shabaab from cities across the United States."
The department unsealed four separate indictments charging people in Minnesota, Alabama and California with providing money, personnel and services to Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group operating in Somalia with ties to al Qaeda.
Among them were Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, arrested on Thursday in Minnesota for providing funds to Al Shabaab, Holder said during a news conference. Most of the other defendants already are in custody, he said.
"As demonstrated by the charges unsealed today, we are seeing an increasing number of individuals, including US citizens, who have become captivated by extremist ideology and have taken steps to carry out terrorist objectives, either at home or abroad," Holder said. "It`s a disturbing trend that we have been intensely investigating."
Holder said he wanted to send a message to those arrested this week and others who might be charting a similar course.
"While our investigations are ongoing around the country, these arrests and charges should serve as an unmistakable warning to others considering joining or supporting terrorist groups like Al Shabaab," he said.
"If you choose this route, you can expect to find yourself in a US jail or a casualty on the battlefield in Somalia."
As many as six suspected militants from Minnesota have already died in the fighting in Somalia.