An African man provided money and was trained with weapons and explosives in a bid to help a terrorist organization seeking to destabilize Somalia and attack U.S. interests, prosecutors announced Monday.
Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed was held without bail after a brief appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Manhattan. He was to enter a plea at a second court appearance scheduled for Tuesday.
His lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said he will plead not guilty.
Ahmed, a citizen of Eritrea, in northeast Africa, was brought to the United States on Saturday to face an indictment accusing him of going to Somalia last year to help al-Shabaab, a group designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.
Al-Shabaab is the most active group of violent extremists targeting Somalia's weak transitional government, which is backed by the United States. Somalia, an impoverished East African nation of about 10 million people, has not had a functioning government for many years.
Federal prosecutors said al-Shabaab, in a quest to impose strict Islamic law throughout Somalia, has claimed responsibility for multiple suicide bombing attacks in recent years, including five simultaneous suicide bombings targeting government, Ethiopian and United Nations facilities in October 2008.
The indictment charged Ahmed, who lived in Sweden and had visited Nigeria, with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, providing material support, conspiring to receive military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization and receiving military-type training from a terrorist group.
The indictment said he traveled to Somalia last April to receive holy war training at a paramilitary camp belonging to al-Shabaab.
The training included instruction on bomb-making and bomb detonation, and Ahmed possessed documents reflecting bomb-making instructions when he was in Nigeria in November, the indictment said. Ahmed, who was arrested in Nigeria, also supplied al-Shabaab with 3,000 euros last year, it said.