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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division, and U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger of the District of Minnesota announced today that Mohammed Abdullah Warsame has been charged with conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Warsame, 30, of Minneapolis, was charged in a criminal indictment returned Jan. 20, 2004 by a federal grand jury in Minneapolis. The indictment was unsealed today following Warsame’s arrest and initial appearance in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Warsame was ordered held without bond, pending his return to Minneapolis.

“The indictment of Warsame demonstrates this nation’s iron resolve to detect, disrupt and dismantle the networks of terror,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “The charge against Warsame is a grim reminder that al Qaeda, aided by agents and cells in this country, continues its shadowy efforts to destroy the lives and freedoms of the people of the United States.”

“This case is a stark reminder that the threat from terrorists and those who help them exists across the country, not just in New York City and Washington, D.C., but also in places like Buffalo, Tampa, Portland, San Diego, and now, Minnesota,” added Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray. “Our efforts to cut off the rings of terrorist support will continue with vigor, here in the United States and abroad.”

U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger stated, “This indictment shows that the war on terrorism is not over and that everywhere in the United States, even Minnesota and the rest of the nation’s great Heartland, are subject to the threat of terrorist activity.” Heffelfinger also praised the investigative work of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Minneapolis. “The Minneapolis JTTF has been in operation since early 2000. The State of Minnesota and the nation are safer due to the hard work and experience of these dedicated investigators. Our best defense against terrorism is law enforcement cooperation, coordination and communication such as that demonstrated in this case by the JTTF members,” he stated.

The indictment alleges that from March 2000 and continuing through Dec. 8, 2003, Warsame conspired to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Al Qaeda was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Secretary of State on Oct. 8, 1999 and redesignated on Oct. 5, 2001.

If convicted, Warsame faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. Any sentence would be determined by a judge based on the federal sentencing guidelines.

The case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) is a multi-agency effort combining the resources of federal, state, and local law enforcement. In addition to the FBI, the investigation was conducted with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Minneapolis Police Department, the St. Paul Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. In addition to those agencies, the JTTF in Minneapolis includes representatives of the Minnesota Department of Homeland Security; the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office; the U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Police; the Transportation Safety Administration; the Federal Air Marshals; the Bloomington Police Department; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Ward, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.