Captured at sea, Somali man pleads guilty in New York to helping al-Qaida
BY KEN DILANIAN, Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- A Somali man who was captured at sea two years ago pleaded guilty in New York to aiding al-Qaida.
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame pleaded guilty to nine counts in December 2011, but the plea was sealed until Monday because he had been providing information about his former associates, according to court records.
The charges call for a life sentence, but the judge could sentence Warsame to to less time in light of his cooperation. His plea agreement says his family could be placed in the witness protection program.
The case is the third this month in which the government has brought a foreign terrorism suspect into civilian court. A Nigerian man allegedly involved with al-Qaida was indicted by a grand jury in Brooklyn last week, and Osama bin Laden's son-in-law was named in a separate indictment unsealed in New York on March 7.
Warsame was captured on a boat sailing from Somalia to Yemen in April 2011. U.S. intelligence agencies secretly questioned him for more than two months aboard a Navy vessel. He was then read his Miranda rights -- and waived them. He spoke to law enforcement agents for several days before he was taken to New York in July 2011, officials said.
Warsame's cooperation "continues to be enormously valuable," said a Justice Department official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Warsame admitted brokering a weapons deal between al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen and the Somali militant group Shabab. He went to Yemen in 2010 for explosives training and took part in terrorist activities there.