Two Somali women, who became US naturalized citizens, were convicted today in federal court in Minnesota of terrorist financing for providing material support to al-Shabaab, a listed terrorist entity in both the US and Canada. The two women collected funds from Somali foreign nationals in Canada and the US during a three year period and sent the funds to Somalia via hawalas and other money remittance businesses. Amina Farah and Hawo Hassan were convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorist organization and Hassan was also convicted of making false statements to the FBI, namely that she denied knowing anyone who sent money to al-Shabaab and had never been asked to send money through a hawala to Somalia. They raised funds door to door among the Somali community claiming that funds raised would be used to help the poor in Somalia.
Public Safety Canada has listed al-Shabaab as a terrorist entity because of its links with al Qaida and its terrorist activities that include targeted assassinations and suicide bombings against journalists, civil leaders and government officials in Somali in furtherance of establishing a Somali caliphate.
A hawala is an informal system of money transfer whereby funds are transferred by customers to a hawala operator, called a hawaladar, in one country and disbursed to recipients in another country by other hawaladar associates. Hawalas are considered high risk for money laundering and terrorist financing.