Tuesday, March 26, 2013
A shadowy Somali citizen who was interrogated about his ties to
international terrorism aboard an American U.S. warship nearly two years
ago has pleaded guilty as part of a cooperation agreement, prosecutors
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame had been charged with providing
material support to terrorist organizations, conspiring to teach and
demonstrate the making of explosives and other charges. He entered the
plea in December 2011 in a sealed proceeding in federal court in
Prosecutors didn't explain why they kept Warsame's plea
secret until now. They called his case a breakthrough in how it
uncovered new clues about al-Qaida in Yemen and its relationship with
al-Shabab in Somalia, but provided few details.
"The capture of Ahmed Warsame and his lengthy
interrogation for intelligence purposes, followed by his thorough
questioning by law enforcement agents, was an intelligence watershed,"
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "The handling of
Warsame represents a seamless orchestration by our military,
intelligence and law enforcement agencies that significantly furthered
our ability to find, fight and apprehend those who wish to do us harm."
Warsame, who's listed as in his mid-20s, could face a potential life
term, but no sentencing date was set. His last appearance in open court
was in September 2011, when he pleaded not guilty.
The plea cooperation agreement calls for Warsame to tell
the FBI everything he knows about terror threats and, if necessary,
testify for the government before grand juries and at trials. He and his
family would get federal protection if his cooperation puts them in
danger, the agreement says.
A defense attorney for Warsame declined to comment Monday.
The U.S. military captured Warsame in the Gulf of Aden
between Somalia and Yemen on April 19, 2011. Law enforcement agents
questioned him for more than two months until he was read him Miranda
rights to remain silent. He waived them and spoke to law enforcement
agents for several days before being sent to New York in July 2011,
Warsame was not believed to be a senior member of either
terrorist organization, but court documents say he fought with and
helped train al-Shabab in 2009, then played a similar roll with al-Qaida
in Yemen until 2011. That made him a potentially valuable intelligence
asset, since he had unique access in both groups, authorities said.
Al-Shabab controlled much of south-central Somalia from
2006 to mid-2011, when the group was ousted by African Union troops.
Since then al-Shabab has been on the run.