Columbus Resident Accused Of Supporting Al-Qaeda-Linked Group

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A Columbus resident was one of at least a dozen Somali-Americans who was accused of supporting an Al-Qaeda-linked group in Somalia, 10TV News reported on Thursday. 

According to an unsealed indictment obtained by 10TV News, the person, whose identity has not been made public, helped funnel funds to the group al-Shabab, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

The federal indictment said that a Columbus resident helped a Minnesota woman raise money for the terrorist group, 10TV's Paul Aker reported. 

The individual in Columbus was directed to "always collect (money) under the name of the poor," so that those funds could be sent to Somalia.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that 14 people were charged with providing support for al-Shabab.

A Columbus Somali community leader said several women who raised money for health care aid in Somalia were questioned after investigators tied the money to terrorists.

SomaliCAN Executive Director Jibril Hirsi said on Thursday he does not believe the women knew where the money was going.

Hirsi said the women went door-to-door two years ago raising money for people in Somalia who needed surgery for cleft lips, tumors and other medical issues.

Federal authorities in Minnesota interviewed the women earlier this year but did not charge them, Hirsi said.
        
In Minneapolis, the FBI has been investigating how seemingly normal young men vanish and turn up on the front lines of terror attacks in Somali, Aker reported.

Holder said that the charges reflect a disturbing trend that leaders in Muslim communities in the United States are try to help law enforcement agencies address.

The arrests are a concern for many in Columbus.

According to the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, central Ohio has the second largest Somali population in the U.S., second behind Minneapolis.

The population began to grow with war refugees resettling beginning in 1991, and currently more than 15,000 people of Somali decent call Franklin County home.

At the Horn of Africa Community Center, Mussa Farah said he is worried by news that a person living in Columbus is linked to suspected terrorist activity, 10TV's Maureen Kocot reported.

"We are very nervous," Farah said. "We are very concerned."

Farah helps Somali refugees who fled a nation devastated by civil war to start a new life in the U.S.

The center helps refugees learn English, assists with job placement and has a community garden.

Farah said many at the center are working hard to make sure the disappearance of Somali men from Minneapolis does not happen in Columbus.

"The ideology war is very bad," Farah said. "It's the worst. Somebody can just change your mind and tell you if you blow yourself up and things, it's ideology and ideology is the worst war."

Farah is reaching out to Somali teens and urging them not to allow extremists lead them down what he calls "the road to hell."

"Let them not cut your future short. Let them not confuse you," Farah said. "So we tell them to build their future instead of cutting their future short."

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