LOS ANGELES - Federal prosecutors unveiled charges Tuesday against three newly jailed California residents accused of conspiring to provide support to al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-allied rebel group based in Somalia.
The three men, all arrested by FBI agents in San Diego this week, are the latest of several individuals taken into U.S. custody in recent months on charges of trying to aid al Shabaab, designated a terrorist organization by the State Department.
The five-count indictment against the latest suspects -- Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud and Issa Doreh -- was returned by a federal grand jury on Oct. 22 and unsealed on Tuesday, coinciding with Moalin's arraignment.
He was ordered held without bail pending a detention hearing set for Friday. The two others are expected to appear for arraignment on Wednesday. The men were described as San Diego residents, but their nationalities were not revealed.
They are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and related offenses, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego.
The al Shabaab militia, which seeks to impose a strict version of Islamic law throughout Somalia, has waged a bloody insurgency with other groups against the Western-backed Mogadishu government in recent years.
In July, the group claimed responsibility for twin bombings that killed nearly 80 people in Uganda, which has provided the bulk of African Union troops in a peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
U.S. officials have said many of al Shabaab's senior leaders are believed to have trained and fought with al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The new indictment accuses Moalin of coordinating fund-raising efforts and money transfers to the insurgents with Mohamud and Doreh at the behest of a once-prominent al Shabaab military leader Hashi Ayrow, who has since been killed. According to the indictment, Moalin and Ayrow were in direct telephone contact.
Even after Ayrow's death in 2008, the three conspirators continued to transfer money from San Diego to Somalia to purchase weapons used by al Shabaab militants, the indictment says. (Editing by Jerry Norton)
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.