WASHINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€ Fourteen US citizens have been arrested for seeking to join or provide aid to the Al-Qaeda-linked Somalia group Shebab, media reported Thursday, citing law enforcement officials.
NBC News reported that the arrested included at least one person seeking to leave the United States for Somalia to join Shebab.
Fox News said an indictment accuses some individuals of providing material support to a terrorist group, saying the defendants tried to raise funds using a bogus charity as a front.
A news conference was scheduled later Thursday at the Justice Department.
The Shebab, an Islamist extremist group that controls most of central and western Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Uganda’s capital on July 11 that killed 76 people gathered to watch the World Cup final.
US officials say the group may pose a broader global threat.
The 14 people arrested include 12 from Minnesota, one from Alabama and one from California, NBC said.
Fox said prosecutors allege the suspects raised funds by soliciting door-to-door in Minnesota’s Somali communities, telling potential donors that the funds were for the “poor and needy” but that the money was funneled to Shebab, which has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US government.
Similar efforts took place in other parts of the United States, officials said in the latest in a series of arrests of Americans linked to alleged terrorist organizations.
The news comes a day after the announcement of the arrest of a US man hours before he was scheduled to travel to Somalia to purportedly join Shebab.
Shaker Masri, 26, who was born in Alabama and now lives in Chicago, was charged with attempting to provide material support to two US-designated terror organizations, Al-Qaeda and Shebab.
He also was charged with one count of trying to provide material support, and cover it up, to someone attempting or conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against the United States.
An FBI informant told authorities that Masri had begun to “openly express a desire to participate in a ‘jihad’ and to fight” against what he characterized as “infidels,” according to the Justice Department.
According to the indictment, “Masri has advocated an extremist and violent interpretation of Islam.”