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Virginia Al Shabaab Recruiter on FBI’s Most Wanted List Captured in Somalia

A former taxi driver from the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC who was recently added to the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists has been captured in Somalia.

Liban Haji Mohamed, a naturalized US citizen born in Somalia, was added to the FBI’s most wanted list for allegedly providing material support and resources to the Somali-based Al Shabaab terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

The FBI added Mohamed to the list after expressing concerns that the jihadi recruiter could plan an attack on US soil. Law enforcement officials indicated Mohamed had knowledge of shopping areas, metro, airports and government buildings in the Washington, DC area.

Homeland Security Today reported last month the FBI believed Mohamed left the country in the summer of 2012 using a US passport and is a close associate of convicted terrorist Zachary Chesser, who was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to Al Shabaab.

The FBI had offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to Mohamed’s arrest and conviction.

“While living in Northern Virginia, Mohamed was a recruiter and radicalizer for Al Shabaab, which historically has targeted Westerners to go to Somalia and fight for them,” Ghattas said. “Not only did Mohamed choose to go to Somalia and fight with Al Shabaab, he took a prominent role in trying to recruit people and have them train with weapons.”

The announcement emerged amid growing concerns over the possibility of a terrorist attack on US soil. Just last week, Al Shabaab released a new video purportedly showing the terror group calling for an attack on malls in the West, including the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

Al Shabaab took responsibility for an attack in 2013 at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that left more than 60 people dead.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also voiced his fears over a potential attack. Johnson told NBC’s "Meet the Press" that, “I’m not telling people to not go to the mall," but “I think that there needs to be an awareness. I’m saying that the public needs to be particularly vigilant.”

Moreover, Homeland Security Today reported last year that Al Shabaab released a video calling for Muslims living in the West to "take your Istishhadi [suicide] vest" and carry out a lone-wolf attack.

Middle East Media Research Institute Executive Director Steve Stalinsky told Homeland Security Today, “It should be pointed out that Al Shabaab is very active in its propaganda and recruitment efforts on social media; in addition, over the past year it has released multiple videos aimed at Somali youth abroad, particularly in the West, stressing lone-wolf attacks."

Stalinsky pointed out that, “Al Shabaab has been successful in its efforts to recruit Westerners from the US, Canada and the UK to come fight for their cause in Somalia. However, up until now, what they are calling for now, and have been calling for in the past year — that is, attacks in the West — have not been carried out.”

While Al Shabaab has not yet launched a successful attack on US soil, only time will tell whether this will continue to be the case.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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