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10/08/2010

ICE deports Somali-born Canadian national with close ties to al-Qaeda

DETROIT - A Somali-born Canadian national - who received military training at an al-Qaeda terrorist camp, met with and attended lectures by Osama bin Laden, and provided security guard services and money to al-Qaeda - was deported to Canada on Friday by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Mohammed Warsame, 37, was indicted in January 2004 in the District of Minnesota for conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda, a designated terrorist organization, following an investigation by the Minneapolis Joint Terrorism Task Force, which included agents from the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  Warsame attended the Minneapolis Community and Technical College prior to his arrest in December 2003.

Warsame was charged with providing material support and resources to al-Qaeda, specifically that he traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2000 and 2001to attend al-Qaeda training camps. Court documents showed that al-Qaeda paid Warsame's travel expenses to return to Canada, that Warsame sent money back to an al-Qaeda associate as repayment, and that Warsame maintained contact with al-Qaeda after returning to Canada.

Warsame pleaded guilty on May 20, 2009 in the District of Minnesota to providing material support to al-Qaeda, and was sentenced to 92 months federal prison with credit for time served. On July 9, 2009, the District of Minnesota issued Warsame a judicial order of removal to Canada.

"There is no place in this country for anyone who advocates violence by associating, supporting or conspiring with terrorists," said ICE Director John Morton. "ICE will use every tool at our disposal to protect the American people and remove those who pose a threat to our national security."

According to court documents, in March 2000, Warsame traveled through the mountains from Pakistan to Afghanistan, where he attended an al-Qaeda training camp outside Kabul. For the next three to five months, Warsame received training in physical fitness, the use of weapons and martial arts. Warsame also traveled to the front lines with the Taliban and observed combat between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

In the summer of 2000, he then traveled to the al Faruq training camp, where he received further military training and met Osama Bin Laden. Warsame described Bin Laden as "very inspirational." At this camp, Warsame was trained to use AK-47 rifles, Uzis and other weapons; he also received training in tactics and navigation. During this time, Warsame again fought for the Taliban and said he was exposed to heavy fighting.
Warsame returned to Pakistan, and while there, he was in contact via email with al-Qaeda associates he had met in Afghanistan. In one of those e-mails, Warsame described his time spent at the camps as "one of the greatest experiences of my life. I will be going back there very soon."

In another email dated Dec. 6, 2000, Warsame wrote, "If you have any news or important information please let me know, because I don't want to be late for the action, you know what I mean. We hear there might be an attack soon."

After a few months in Pakistan, Warsame returned to Afghanistan and to an al-Qaeda guesthouse. The guesthouse was used as a place of rest for people attending Bin Laden's camp. Warsame was assigned to guard the guesthouse and later met a variety of individuals who have been indicted and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the United States, including Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid.

Warsame attended an Islamic institute near the guesthouse that taught radical Islam and preached jihad to students and said, according to court documents, the institute's leader was a high-ranking al-Qaeda member. Warsame admitted that he approached this individual for money in order to bring his family from Canada to Afghanistan.

Warsame admitted that in March 2001, he traveled from Pakistan via London to Canada and continued his email contacts with the al-Qaeda associates he had met in Afghanistan. In addition, he sent about $2,000 (Canadian) to one of his former training camp commanders. Warsame also provided information to an individual he met in Afghanistan about the process for entering Canada.

Warsame then relocated to Minneapolis. Throughout 2002 and 2003, he continued to exchange email messages with and provide information to several individuals associated with al-Qaeda.

Warsame was released about 6 a.m. on Oct. 8 from the Bureau of Prison's facility at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind.  He was immediately turned over to ICE.  He was transported under ICE escort to Canada and was turned over to officials from the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) at about 12:30 p.m. (EDT).