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Two women jailed in US for funding Westgate terror attack

As terrorists butchered people by the tens during the September 21, 2013 attack at the Westgate Mall, two women in the United States were rolling with laughter, probably rejoicing that money they had sent to Al-Shabaab had been put to “good” use.

Little did the women know that American officials, who had been tracking them for a while, were recording them. Now the two are in jail.

Muna Osman Jama, 36, who has been residing in Reston, Virginia; and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, whose abode is in Kent, Washington, will now cool heels in US prisons for more than a decade after they were found guilty of financing Al-Shabaab terrorists in Kenya and Somalia.

Both are originally from Somalia and, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice, are naturalised American citizens.

BEHIND BARS

Jama was jailed for 12 years while Dhirane will be behind bars for 11 years. They were handed the sentences on Friday by US District Judge Anthony Trenga.

“Jama and Dhirane were recorded as they laughed as the carnage at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was still taking place,” said part of the statement from the Justice Department after their jailing.

At least 67 people died when Al-Shabaab militants opened fire on people who were spending their Saturday afternoon at the mall.

US officials had established that the two women used to send money to Al-Shabaab financiers which they called the “Hargeisa side” (Somalia) and the “Nairobi side” (Kenya).

‘GROUP OF FIFTEEN’

The dispatch from the Justice Department states: “The defendants also organised what was called a ‘Group of Fifteen,’ which included women from Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as Minneapolis, Minnesota.”

“The ‘Group of Fifteen’ met regularly in a private chatroom that Jama established to organise and track monthly payment of money to the ‘Hargeisa side,’ which was used to finance Al-Shabaab military operations in the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, and the ‘Nairobi side, which was used to fund two Al-Shabaab safehouses.”

“One of the safehouses was used by Al-Shabaab to store weapons and to prepare for attacks. The other was used to treat Al-Shabaab fighters who had been wounded in battle.”

The biggest evidence that was used to pin down the two were recordings that US officials made of the women calling their contacts in the ‘Group of Fifteen.’

CLOSE CONNECTIONS

“These recordings demonstrated that the women had close connections with Al-Shabaab leadership and were privy to non-public, inside information concerning Al-Shabaab activities,” says the US Justice Department.

The two were found guilty last October and each faced a jail term of up to 15 years.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the one that trailed them and smoked them out, with assistance from other US state agencies.