A Minnesota woman who sent money to the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia was sentenced to five years’ probation on Wednesday after she cooperated with prosecutors, who said the light sentence would send a message to community members who shunned the woman yet supported other defendants who remained defiant.
Amina Mohamud Esse, 43, pleaded guilty in 2014 to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. She faced up to 15 years in prison, but prosecutors sought probation because she provided substantial assistance to the government.
“I accept responsibility for what I did,” Esse told the judge through an interpreter. “I’m willing to do all I can for the rest of my life to correct the mistakes I did.”
Her cooperation included nearly 60 meetings and phone calls with authorities, as well as testimony in the trial against ringleaders of an online network of women who used an internet chat room to raise thousands of dollars for al-Shabab, which the U.S. says is involved in terrorism.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Kovats said Esse was the 21st person to be sentenced in terrorism cases in Minnesota in the last five years. The sentences have ranged from probation to 35 years in prison.
Kovats noted Esse’s case is the first in which his office has recommended probation, saying it would send a message that “working with the U.S. is the right thing to do, even when the loudest community voices don’t seem to agree.”