VIRGINIA Woman Sent to Prison for Raising Fund for Terrorist Group

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A Dutch woman has been convicted of raising money for the Somali terror group al-Shabab, according to a federal prosecutor.

Farhia Hassan, 38, was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, Jessica Aber, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a news release.

Court records and evidence showed that Hassan was involved for more than three years with a group of women from more than a dozen countries who ran a fundraising network to provide financial support to al-Shabab.

The women funneled cash payments directly to members of the terror group, coordinating the payments through online chat rooms, and it was used to finance safe houses and purchase trucks and weapons in support of al-Shabab, according to the press release.

Hassan participated in fundraising in the Netherlands and falsely told donors that the money was raised to help charitable causes, according to the press release.

Hassan faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison when she is sentenced on July 22.

Hassan was extradited last year from the Netherlands to the United States to stand trial after a seven-year fight. His lawyers argued that the US lacked jurisdiction to charge a Dutch woman with giving money to a Somali terrorist group, but Judge Anthony Trenga ruled that the US has a legitimate interest in prosecuting supporters of a designated terrorist organization.

Two members of the US-based fundraising ring were convicted in 2016 and sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

Their defense argued that the amounts contributed by the women were insignificant, a few thousand dollars in total, and that they intended to use the money to care for wounded al-Shabab soldiers. They said that providing funds for drugs in an armed conflict cannot be considered a crime under international treaties, and convicting someone for advocating a cause violates the First Amendment.

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