Official: Man on terror most-wanted list detained in Somalia
McLEAN, Virginia (AP) — A former taxi driver from Virginia who was recently placed on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists has been captured in Somalia, a U.S. law enforcement official said Monday.
The official told The Associated Press that Liban Mohamed, 29, is in Somali custody. The official would not describe what efforts would be made to bring Mohamed to the United States for trial. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, where Mohamed would be prosecuted, did not return a telephone call and email seeking comment Monday.
Mohamed’s capture was first reported Monday by The Washington Post. Mohamed is charged with providing material support to al-Qaida and the Somali-based group al-Shabab, and is one of about 30 people on the FBI’s most-wanted list for terrorists. He was placed on the list about a month ago. Details of the charges against him remain under seal, but the FBI said it considered Mohamed’s arrest a priority because of his knowledge of the nation’s capital and its landmarks.
The FBI believes Mohamed left the U.S. in 2012. He worked as a taxi driver in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.
Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer who has represented Mohamed’s family on separate matters, had no comment Monday evening. Abbas has said previously that Mohamed’s family does not believe the allegations against him, and that al-Shabab has killed members of the family.
Abbas represents Mohamed’s brother, Gulet Mohamed, in a civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the government’s no-fly list. The FBI announced Liban’s placement on the no-fly list one day before a critical pretrial hearing in Gulet Mohamed’s lawsuit, in which the government sought to invoke its state-secrets privilege to have the lawsuit tossed out of court.
The FBI, in announcing Liban Mohamed’s placement on the most-wanted list, described him as a “close associate” of Zachary Chesser, another northern Virginia man who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for trying to join al-Shabab and for making online threats against the creators of the “South Park” cartoon for an episode perceived as an insult to the prophet Muhammad.
Court records in an unrelated case indicate Chesser was recently transferred to the Bureau of Prisons’ “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado.
Tucker reported from Washington.