A little known terrorism case in San Antonio has perhaps bigger implications on North Texas and beyond than most people realize.
Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, a 25-year-old Somali national, received 10 years in federal prison yesterdayafter he pleaded guilty to making false statements in his asylum application.
What’s most troubling about this case is how much potential damage this one fellow has done to American national security, compared to the scant attention he’s gotten in the press (at least outside San Antonio).
After Dhakane tried to enter Brownsville from Mexico in March 2008, he was detained and held by immigration authorities at a facility in Pearsall.
What he ended up telling confidential informants planted at the facility is chilling. He had been hiding his involvement with Al-Ittihad Al-Islami, or AIAI. AIAI is a militant Islamist organization that gained power after the Somali government collapsed in the 1990s. According to the government, it’s also virtually indistinguishable from the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabbab. Dhakane also worked for al-Barakat, another designated terrorist organization that, according to prosecutors, is an Islamic money moving system used by Islamist extremists.
All are designated terrorist organizations by U.S. authorities. And all have ties to al Qaeda.
So, what authorities believe is that Dhakane aided who-knows-how-many Somali jihadists get across the Texas-Mexico border. Counterterrorism officials have acknowledged in court that they, truly, have no idea how many people he helped get here — much less where they all ended up.
“Dhakane stated he did not know their exact reason for wanting to enter the United States, but cautioned that he believed they would fight against the U.S. if the jihad moved from overseas locations to the U.S. mainland,” according to the government’s sentencing memo, which I’ve uploaded below.
I’ve also attached the defense’s narrative of his life and times.
According to their version, Dhakane was a Christian convert fleeing Islamist oppression in chaotic Somalia, and they point out that the government has no proof that he aided any terrorist plots in the U.S.
“The government asserts that Dhakane was a member or associated with AIAI,” the defense memo states.
“In fact, Dhakane did not tell the government that he was a member of AIAI or that he was associated with that group. Dhakane told the government that he had knowledge of and involvement with people associated with AIAI. Dhakane offered to help the government by providing information about AIAI and related organizations, as well as people associated, or at least associated at one time, with AIAI both in Somalia and in the United States. The government now attempts to use this information to show that Dhakane intended to promote terrorism.”
Read both versions and judge for yourself.