After more than seven years of extradition proceedings in the Netherlands, a Dutch woman brought by the FBI to the United States yesterday made her initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to face charges stemming from her alleged participation in a terrorist financing ring in support of the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab.
According to allegations in an indictment, Farhia Hassan, 38, was involved with a group of women from more than a dozen countries around the world who ran a fundraising ring to provide financial support to al-Shabaab from in or about February 2011 through in or about July 2014. Through conduits in Nairobi, Kenya, and Hargeisa, Somalia, the group of women allegedly funneled cash payments via money remitters directly to members of the terrorist group. According to members of the conspiracy, the money was used to fund safehouses and to purchase trucks and weaponry in support of al-Shabaab. The women allegedly coordinated the payments using online chatrooms.
Hassan, in particular, was allegedly involved in fundraising in the Netherlands under false pretenses by representing to donors that money was being collected to fund charitable ventures, such as schools for orphans, when it was in fact being funneled to terrorists. Two U.S.-based members of the fundraising ring, Muna Osman Jama, 41, of Reston, and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 51, of Kent, Washington, were convicted in 2016 for their participation and were sentenced to 12- and 11-years imprisonment, respectively.
Hassan is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys James P. Gillis and Danya E. Atiyeh for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Kathleen Campbell of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing the arrest and extradition from the Netherlands.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.