Kent woman charged with funneling money to terrorist organization, allegedly calling them ‘brothers in the mountains’

(Credit: KCPQ-TV)

(Credit: KCPQ-TV)

KENT — A 44-year-old local woman was arrested on charges that she helped operate and direct a network that provided funding to a known terrorist group.

Hinda Osman Dhirane, 44, was arrested Wednesday at her home in Kent on suspicion of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. Justice Department said.

She is one of five woman worldwide charged recently with filtering money to terrorist group al-Shabaab, a known facet of al-Qa’ida. Three of the five were arrested today, and two others are wanted in Africa.

The Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, commonly known as al-Shabaab, is a terrorist group conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia.

According to the Justice Department, Dhirane, along with 34-year-old  Muna Osman Jama of Reston, Virginia were leaders of an al-Shabaab “fundraising conspiracy” operating in the U.S., Kenya, the Netherlands, Somalia and elsewhere.  The women allegedly directed others — primarily women — to provide covert, electronic monthly payments to the group, usually in installments of $50 to $100.

The group sent the money to conduits overseas, the Justice Department said, under the guise of “living expenses.” The women allegedly often used codewords when sending the money, using terms such as “orphans” and “brothers in the mountains” to refer to al-Shabaab fighters, and “camels” to refer to trucks needed by al-Shabaab.

If convicted, Dhirane and the other defendants face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on each count of the indictment.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington, D.C. and Seattle Field Offices, the Justice Department said. Dhirane is slated to appear in federal court at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The arrests were made just two days after a scathing report of the Justice Department’s tactics in counter-terrorism operations was released by Human Rights Watch.

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