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July 25, 2013San Antonio, TX, United StatesOperational

Somali national sentenced to more than 8 years in federal prison for making false statements in terrorism investigation

SAN ANTONIO — A citizen of Somalia was sentenced Thursday to more than eight years in federal prison after admitting that he made false statements under penalty of perjury during a terrorism investigation.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Robert Pittman, Western District of Texas. This case was investigated by the FBI, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Abdullahi Omar Fidse, 29, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery to 97 months in federal prison, and three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

"This prosecution demonstrates the vigilance of the federal government in detecting and disabling individuals who seek to enter the country illegally with the purpose of doing harm. We will continue to be aggressive in protecting our borders and seeking severe punishment for those who violate our laws," said Robert Pittman, U.S. Attorney.

"HSI's unique law enforcement authorities provided a critical advantage in building a case against Abdullahi Omar Fidse," said Vincent Iglio, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. "HSI will continue to use these investigative tools to help prosecute anyone who threatens our national security or provides support to those who intend to harm our citizens."

"This case demonstrates the Joint Terrorism Task Force's commitment to protecting the U.S. from individuals who seek to do us harm by gaining entry to the U.S. through deception, manipulation and violation of the law," said Armando Fernandez, special agent in charge of FBI San Antonio Division.

According to court records, on June 24, 2008, Fidse and Deka Abdall Sheikh, 25, who was serving as Fidse's English interpreter, arrived at the Hidalgo, Texas, Port of Entry without any identification. As part of his request for immigration benefits, Fidse claimed that he witnessed his father's murder by "al-Qaida" inside his father's store in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was later transferred to ICE custody.

Recorded conversations between Fidse and Sheikh during Fidse's detention revealed that before arriving in Hidalgo, both stated that they planned to provide false testimony to authorities about how they first met, that they were married, and that they had lived together for three years. Furthermore, they discussed hand signals to be used during immigration court hearings in an effort to ensure that their individual testimonies would match.

Fidse's story changed over the course of his detention, including who was responsible for his father's death. He initially told U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers that al-Qaida killed his father while they lived in Somalia. He later told a federal immigration judge that the Islamic courts were responsible for his father's death. In actuality, his father had died of natural causes years before; and Fidse had lived in Kenya since he was in grade school. Because of Fidse's lack of credibility and his inability to get his story straight on who killed his father, on March 31, 2009, the immigration judge denied Fidse's request for immigration benefits. Afterwards, Fidse remained in ICE custody since, as a Somali national, travel documents could not be obtained from that country.

The previously mentioned recordings also revealed discussions Fidse had with an undercover source in which Fidse professed his support for violent, radical Jihad, the killing of non-Muslims, and his adoration for Osama Bin Laden.

While still in custody, Fidse also made recorded comments that he purchased an armed vehicle and weapons to be used by terrorists. Fidse told an undercover source how he bought and armed a vehicle for an al-Shabaab squad, and that the vehicle was ultimately destroyed while fighting the Ethiopian defense forces supporting the Somalia Transitional Government.

Fidse also told the undercover source that, "We are terrorists." Fidse initially denied making the recorded statements when interviewed by federal investigators; and he refused to provide them with more specifics about the armed vehicle.

However, on Dec. 5, 2012, Fidse pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct an immigration proceeding and one count of conspiracy to make a false statement during a terrorism investigation.

On Thursday, Fidse received four years imprisonment for each count to run consecutively.

On Sept. 20, 2012, Sheikh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make a false statement in a terrorism investigation. By pleading guilty, Sheikh admitted that she and Fidse conspired to provide false information to authorities to gain entrance into the United States, as well as provide false information to authorities concerning support for terrorist organizations. On July 25, Judge Biery sentenced her to five years' probation.

This case was investigated by agents with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), FBI, HSI, CBP Border Patrol, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Roomberg, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case.