A Somali-American man who came to the United States as a refugee is now the FBI’s newest “Most Wanted Terrorist” after leaving for Somalia, and a former congresswoman is asking why a bill to prevent American jihadists from re-entering the country has not been acted upon.
Liban Haji Mohamed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia, is charged with providing material support and resources to both al-Qaida and al-Shabab, a Somalia-based terrorist organization. He is considered particularly dangerous because he worked to recruit other U.S. terrorists for al-Qaida and al-Shabab, the FBI said.
The Somali community in the United States numbers more than 110,000, with large populations in cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lewiston, Maine, San Diego, California, and Columbus, Ohio, among others where they have been resettled through the United Nations refugee program.
Mohamed, 29, lived in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., and worked as a cab driver in the northern Virginia suburbs, the FBI said. He left the country on or about July 5, 2012, to join the ranks of al-Shabab’s jihadist fighters in Somali, according to a statement posted Jan. 29 on the FBI’s website.
The statement also included a video, photos of Mohamed and a link to his Facebook page.
Watch the FBI video on Mohamed below:
His older brother, Gulet Mohamed, has been on the government’s no-fly list for four years.
“Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for many bombings in Somalia and Uganda and the 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya,” said Carl Ghattas, special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division at the FBI’s Washington field office. “Liban Mohamed is believed to have left the U.S. with the intent to join al-Shabab in East Africa. We believe he is currently there operating on behalf of that terrorist organization.”
Mohamed is traveling with a U.S. passport, which means he could try to re-enter the country at any time. His passport does not expire until May 20, 2018.
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., introduced legislation last year to revoke the citizenship of any American caught leaving the country to fight for a foreign terrorist organization.
Bachmann’s bill was not even granted a hearing by House Republican leaders. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a companion bill in the Senate, which was also ignored.
“I verified with U.S. law enforcement that the U.S. government does not necessarily prevent a known terrorist with a U.S. passport from re-entering the US after they have either supplied material support for terrorism or committed acts of terror themselves,” Bachmann told WND.
“Our refugee policy was introduced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and was supported by Vice President Biden while serving in the Senate,” she said. “In my view, this madness is indicative of a nation that has lost the will to survive.”
The U.S. has allowed approximately 110,000 refugees from war-torn Somalia into the U.S. since 1983 through the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Resettlement Program. The program, operated in cooperation with the United Nations, involves what the State Department calls a “rigorous” background check to weed out refugees with terrorist connections.
However, this is not the first time a Somali-American and former refugee has been caught leaving the country to fight for a terrorist organization.
As reported previously by WND, at least 22 Somalis from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, which has the largest population of Somali-Americans, have left the country to fight for al-Shabab or al-Qaida, while several others have gone to fight or ISIS, the FBI told WND last summer. Two from the area were reported last year to have died on the battlefield in Syria.
Another, 18-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf, worked at the Minneapolis airport washing planes. He had obtained a passport and purchased a plane ticket to Istanbul last May with plans to join up with ISIS in Syria when the FBI caught wind of his plans and arrested him. He was charged in November with conspiracy to support a terrorist organization. However, the case came to court last week and the teen was given a surprisingly light sentence. The felony charge could have landed him in prison for 15 years or longer, but a federal judge sent him to a halfway house with plans to “integrate him back into the community,” the Voice of America reported.
Just how many Somalis have been radicalized in the United States is not known. More than 99 percent of the Somalis transplanted into the U.S. since 1991 are of the Sunni Muslim faith.
While living in northern Virginia, Mohamed was a recruiter and worked to radicalize other young Muslims for al-Shabab, which historically has recruited Westerners to go to Somalia and fight for them, Ghattas said.
“Not only did Mohamed choose to go to Somalia and fight with al-Shabab, he took a prominent role in trying to recruit people and have them train with weapons,” Ghattas said.
A federal warrant for Mohamed’s arrest was unsealed Jan. 29 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia. Besides adding Mohamed to the terrorist list and offering a reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction, the FBI is also publicizing the case on social media channels in Somalia and elsewhere to encourage people to come forward with information about the dangerous fugitive.
“It is important for us to locate Mohamed because he has knowledge of the Washington, D.C., area’s infrastructure such as shopping areas, Metro, airports and government buildings,” Ghattas explained. “This makes him an asset to his terrorist associates who might plot attacks on U.S. soil.”
Bachmann thwarted in attempt to help Coptic Christians
The U.N. and the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly U.S. State Department determine which refugees are allowed to enter the U.S. and determine where they will be placed, Bachmann said.
This week senior leaders of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood met in Washington, D.C., with State Department officials, according to Bachmann.
The Brotherhood members tweeted of their meeting, “Now in the US State Dept. Your [US government] steadfastness impresses everyone,” Bachmann said.
“Presumably they mean steadfastness to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Two days after the D.C. meeting, (Thursday, Jan. 29), the Muslim Brotherhood posted on their website a call for continual jihad and violence against the Egyptian government,” Bachmann old WND. “State and local governments have every reason to push back against U.N. and Obama State Department policy, which prefers Third World Muslim populations over others.”
Bachmann, who just left office earlier this month, cited a specific case of what she believes was State Department bias against persecuted Christian minorities in a Muslim country.
“Some months ago I attempted to help Coptic Christians from Egypt flee after they had been violently attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood,” she said. “The State Department denied the Christians petitions for refugee status.”
International bulletin issued for Mohamed
Shortly after leaving the U.S, the international police organization Interpol issued a blue notice for Mohamed to collect additional information about his identity, location and activities. On Aug. 15, 2014, Interpol issued a red notice to seek him as a wanted fugitive.
Mohamed speaks English, Somali and Arabic. He is black, 6 feet tall, weighs about 194 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. He could be using aliases including Abu Ayrow, Shirwa, Shirwac, Qatiluhum and Qatil, according to the FBI report.
Mohamed was a close associate of convicted terrorist Zachary Chesser, who was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab, according to the FBI.
The FBI now has 31 people on its Most Wanted Terrorists list. Of the top 10, eight are Islamists, one is a communist living in Cuba and one is an animal-rights extremist.
Those on the list have been charged in the U.S. for their alleged involvement in various terrorist attacks or planned attacks around the world against U.S. interests or persons.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said in late 2013 he was “absolutely” concerned that the more than 22 young American-Somali men may return to the U.S. with their passports and attempt to carry out an attack on U.S. soil similar to the foiled plot in Australia, in which Somali-Australians allegedly affiliated with al-Shabab planned to carry out a suicide attack on a Sydney army base after returning from Somalia.
Somali refugees by the numbers
The Refugee Act of 1980 required the Office of Refugee Resettlement to begin reporting to Congress annually. In the first 10 years of the program, from 1983 to 1993, there were 4,413 Somalis admitted as refugees. The escalation of Somali refugees being resettled in the United States can be seen in the graph below.