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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. citizen on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List has been charged with additional crimes involving ties to Somalia’s al-Shabaab rebel group, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday.

Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 37, a former San Diego resident, was indicted on similar charges in 2009.

Without providing specifics, the new counts accuse him of having key roles in al-Shabaab activities and providing material support from 2008 to 2017.

The FBI did say it learned this year that he is a leader in al-Shabaab’s “explosives department.”

“Today, Mostafa is believed to be the highest-ranking United States citizen fighting overseas for a terrorist organization,” said Scott Brunner, the agent in charge of the FBI office in San Diego.

The group claimed responsibility for two Sept. 30 attacks on U.S. and European military targets in Somalia, including one by an estimated 25 fighters who were killed when they tried to storm the Belidogle military airstrip, which hosts Somali and U.S. forces.

Mostafa was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and raised in San Diego, where authorities say he has relatives. He graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2005 and — according to an FBI poster offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest — joined al-Shabaab around 2006.

Mostafa was among a handful of young Muslims from the U.S. who took high-visibility roles inside the al-Qaida-linked insurgent force.

He was once president of the now-defunct Muslim Youth Council of San Diego, which said on its website that it was “dedicated to showing the world that Islam is a religion of peace and Muslims are a peaceful and productive part of society.”

Mostafa’s father, Halim Mostafa, a Kurdish Syrian, made a low-budget film, “Mozlym,” that was released in 2008 and billed as an effort to show how the true meaning of Islam is often lost amid misconceptions of non-Muslims in America.

 

This article was written by Elliot Spagat from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

By William Tucker

Somali residents of Kismayo have reported to several media outlets that al-Shabaab militants are leaving the southern port city. Kismayo is known as the last al-Shabaab stronghold in Somalia. In response to the reports, the Somali military has made public statements about an impending assault on the city, while al-Shabaab is denying that they have left. Residents in the city have said that some militants remain, however.

By William Tucker

A spokesman for the Kenyan military stated that the navy had struck al-Shabaab positions in the Somali port city of Kismayo yesterday in anticipation of a wider assault. Kenya, along with Eithiopia and the African Union, have been engaged in an offensive against the al-Qaeda affiliated militant group for some time. While the loose coalition has made gains it has been slow going due to weather.

By William Tucker

Last week the U.S. Treasury Department designated six individuals for supporting the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. Among the six are two Eritrean intelligence officials who have a long track record of supporting terrorist movements in the horn of Africa. In the past, Asmara has steadfastly denied any accusation of supporting terrorism in general and al-Shabaab in particular.

By William Tucker

On May 28th, an explosion destroyed part of a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya. Initially, local police believed the explosion was the result of an electrical fault, however later analysis showed that the explosion was a result of a deliberate attack. Kenyan police honed in on four suspects after the bombing and began circulating photos of the individual suspects. Today, police in Tanzania stated that they had a suspect in custody.

By William Tucker

In an interesting and underreported development, troops under the command of the African Union have moved to the outskirts of Afgoye. The city of Afgoye is just a few miles outside of the capital Mogadishu and has been under al-Shabaab control for years. If al-Shabaab loses control of Afgoye the militant group will likely lose access to much of south Somalia.

By William Tucker

The counterinsurgency efforts run by the African Union and the Somali TFG have finally begun to have an impact on al-Shabaab’s ability to operate in Somalia. Al-Shabaab has been forced to rely on terrorist attacks against targets in Mogadishu as forces operating under the AU, or independently such as Kenya and Ethiopia, have forced the group from several of its strongholds in southern and central Somalia.

By William Tucker

The Somali militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a car bombing at the Hotel Muna in Mogadishu on Wednesday. Local officials told the media that 15 people were killed in the blast and further 20 were wounded. Hotel Muna is popular with Somali politicians and was the target of another attack in 2010.