On May 2, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Seattle announced the successful removal of Omer Abdi Mohamed, a 38-year-old Somali citizen convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists in 2013.
Mohamed was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 20 years of supervision by the U.S. District Court District of Minnesota.
Mohamed’s conviction was part of the wider “Operation Rhino” investigation, aimed at targeting the recruitment of young Somali men to fight with al-Shabaab, a terrorist group in Somalia.
The operation resulted in the charging of approximately 18 individuals, with eight being convicted. The individuals were involved in not only fighting with the terrorist group but also facilitating travel, providing financial support, and participating in the recruitment process.
The operation focused on young Somali men from the Minneapolis area, who were recruited to fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia against the Transitional Federal Government and African Union peacekeeping troops. The first groups of recruits left the U.S. in late 2007, with more departures in 2008 and 2009.
ICE officers encountered Mohamed in 2018 while he was in federal prison in Illinois and placed an immigration detainer on him. After his release and transfer to ICE custody, an immigration judge ordered his removal to Somalia in March 2023. He was deported on April 28 without incident.
Drew H. Bostock, ICE Seattle Field Office Director, stated that the removal of Mohamed demonstrates that individuals supporting terrorism will not find safe haven in the U.S. In the 2022 fiscal year, ICE arrested 46,396 noncitizens with criminal histories, resulting in 198,498 associated charges and convictions, including assault, sex and sexual assault, weapons, homicide-related, and kidnapping offences.
This deportation marks a significant step towards ensuring public safety and security, with ICE continuing to use the best information available to locate and remove public safety threats from our communities.