Convictions upheld for women who raised funds for al-Shabab

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, August 26, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS  — A federal appeals court upheld the convictions and prison sentences Tuesday for two Minnesota women found guilty of conspiring to funnel money to a terror group in Somalia despite claiming they were collecting funds and clothing for the poor.

Amina Farah Ali, 39, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 68, were convicted in 2011 on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, after prosecutors told jurors the women were part of a “deadly pipeline” that routed money and fighters to al-Shabab.

Ali also was found guilty of 12 counts of providing such support and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Hassan was convicted of two additional counts of lying to the FBI and received a 10-year sentence.

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Defense attorneys appealed on several grounds. Among them, they argued that U.S. District Judge Michael Davis should have recused himself because he made several statements suggesting he equated fundamentalist Islam with terrorism and was prejudiced. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

“This assertion is baseless,” the judges wrote. For example, during sentencing, Davis asked the women questions about the meaning of jihad and al-Shabab’s strict interpretation of Islam.