TACOMA—A mosque leader who faces deportation is also being investigated for possible ties to terrorist groups, a federal agent says.
Abrahim Sheikh Mohamed, 39, is an imam at the Abu-Bakr Mosque in the Rainier Valley district.
He was arrested Nov. 14 and accused by federal officers who said he lied to obtain legal asylum status after coming to the U.S. in 2000. He's being held at the Northwest Detention Center here.
Federal agents also believe he came to the country to help raise money for the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which wants an independent state for ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia, FBI Special Agent David Rubincam said during a hearing to determine whether Mohamed can be released on bond.
In 2003, a source told the FBI that money to rebuild the mosque was being diverted overseas to the liberation front, Rubincam said. Money also went to AIAI, Somalia's largest militant Islamic organization. The FBI put Mohamed under surveillance that year, Rubincam said.
Rubincam testified that much of his information came from four confidential sources who said Mohamed had also claimed affiliation with al-Itihaad a-Islamiya, a Somali group that the State Department has designated as a foreign terrorist organization.
Mohamed has been unable to question his accusers because the government's case is built on confidential sources, defense attorney Hilary Han said.
Convicted felon Peter Coleman testified by telephone that Mohamed was a spiritual adviser to a group of men at the mosque. Although he did not participate, Mohamed allowed the men to participate in jihadist, or terroristlike, training.
One member was identified by Coleman as Zaid Mumin, who pleaded guilty last year to being a felon in possession of an AK-47 and semiautomatic pistols.
Coleman has been a government witness in other federal cases. On Friday, he said he contacted the FBI after observing violent activity involving some mosque members and that he agreed to wear a wire to gather information for the FBI.
Under questioning from Han, he said that he took $153,000 from the FBI for living expenses over the past three years.
— The Associated Press