A federal judge in the US state of Virginia has convicted two women of providing financial support for the Somalia-based al-Shabab Takfiri militant group.
According to the US Attorney’s Office for Eastern Virginia, Muna Osman Jama, 36, and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, were found guilty on Tuesday of leading an online group in raising money to support the al-Qaeda-linked militant group.
The so-called “Group of Fifteen” was comprised of members from eight countries that helped finance military operations conducted by al-Shabab in Somalia and neighboring Kenya.
“These women funneled money to a terrorist organization, which was conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia,” US Attorney Dana Boente said in a written statement.
“National security is the top priority in this office and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who provide material support to terrorists,” he added.
Prosecutors said Jama and Dhirane, arrested in July 2014, sent the money they had raised through a chat room to financiers of the militant group in Somalia and Kenya.
The online group reportedly included women from Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as the US city of Minneapolis.
Convicted of conspiracy and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the two will each face a maximum of 15 years in prison when they are sentenced in January next year.
Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab, which has been carrying out a series of deadly bombings throughout Somalia, is fighting to topple the government in Mogadishu.
The Kenyan government sent over 3,000 soldiers to Somalia in late 2011 after al-Shabab carried out a series of raids inside the country.
Al-Shabab has also vowed to continue fatal cross-border raids until the government in Nairobi pulls its troops out of Somalia.
Somalia has been the scene of fighting between al-Shabab and government forces since 2006. In 2011, the militants were driven out of Mogadishu and other major cities.