Federal agents in Miami played a key role in nabbing two men accused of plotting to finance al-Qaida's battles in Syria and Somalia. Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed and Mohamed Hussein Said pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in Miami federal court Tuesday. They were denied bonds after federal prosecutor Ricardo Del Toro argued the suspects are a flight risk and danger to the community.
The feds busted the two alleged al-Qaida sympathizers using an "online covert employee" from the Federal Bureau of Investigations who engaged Kauser and Said in conversations to provide money to help the terrorist network in Africa.
Based in Miami, the FBI employee claimed to be part of al-Qaida when he spoke to Mohammed and Said in an internet chatroom, according to the Miami Herald. The FBI undercover employee assumed two roles: an al-Qaida fighter and his sister who could help collect money for the terrorist group.
The two men met in Saudia Arabia in 2011 earlier and agreed to an al-Qaida affiliate, al-Shabaab, which is seeking to overthrow the U.S.-backed transitional government in Somalia, according to the indictment. Mohammed allegedly wired Said more than $11,000 via Western Union to back al-Shabaab, the indictment said.
In April 2012, the FBI undercover employee began online chatting with Mohammed, who arranged to send more than $9,000 in a series of Western Union wire transfers. The FBI employee told Mohammed the funds would be used to help another al-Qaida affiliate, al-Nusrah Front, which is fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
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The indictment also mentions discussions between Mohammed and the undercover employee in which they talked about terrorist operations overseas, as well as fundraising, recruits and weapons. For instance, the undercover employee told Mohammed in the fall of 2012 that a terrorist attack was being planned to retaliate for the U.S. drone attack on al-Qaida radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in Yemen in 2011. Mohammed allegedly sent the undercover employee $1,493 intended for that purported retaliatory plot, according to the indictment.
In February 2013, Said contacted the FBI employee and stated "he had a recruit who would be willing to conduct a martyrdom operation within the United States like one of 'the 19.''' Del Toro told the judge Said was referring to the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.