Somalian sentenced, accused of making false statements during terrorism investigation

Abdullahi Omar Fidse sentenced to 8 years in federal prison, says attorneys

SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Attorney's Office says a 29-year-old man from Somalia was sentenced Thursday to eight years in federal prison, after admitting to making false statements under penalty of perjury during a terrorism investigation.

In addition, a U.S. chief district judge ordered that Abdullahi Omar Fidse, 29, be placed under supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term.

"This prosecution demonstrates the vigilance of the federal government in detecting and disabling individuals who seek to enter the country illegally with the purpose of doing harm," said U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman. "We will continue to be aggressive in protecting our borders and seeking severe punishment for those who violate our laws."

According to court records, on June 24, 2008, Fidse and 25-year-old Deka Abdalla Sheikh, who was serving as Fidse's English interpreter, arrived at the Hidalgo, Texas, Port of Entry without any identification.

Records showed Fidse claimed asylum based upon Fidse's father being murdered by "al-Qaida" in the father's store in Mogadishu, Somalia, while in the presence of Fidse.

Fidse was placed in an Immigration Detention Facility located in Pearsall, Texas, while his asylum claim was investigated, according to the attorney's office.

Recorded conversations between Fidse and Sheikh during Fidse's detention revealed that prior to arriving in Hidalgo, authorities said the defendants admittedly planned to provide false testimony to authorities about how they first met, that they were married and that they had lived together for three years.

Furthermore, officials said they discussed hand signals to be used to communicate during hearings in an effort to ensure that their individual testimony would match.

Fidse's stories changed over the course of his detention, including who was responsible for his father's death. Authorities said Fidse initially told Customs and Border Protection officers that al-Qaida killed his father while they lived in Somalia. He subsequently told an Immigration Court judge that the Islamic Courts were responsible for his father's death.

In truth, officials said his father had died of natural causes years before and Fidse actually had lived in Kenya since he was in grade school.

Because of Fidse's credibility and his inability to get his story straight on who killed his father, on March 31, 2009, the Immigration Court denied Fidse's asylum request. Authorities said he remained in the detention facility since he is a Somali national and travel documents could not be obtained from that country.

The previously mentioned recordings also revealed discussions Fidse had with an undercover source in which Fidse professed his support for violent, radical Jihad; the killing of non-Muslims; and, his adoration for Osama bin Laden, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

While still in custody, officials said Fidse also made recorded comments that he purchased an armed vehicle and weapons to be used by terrorists.

Fidse told an undercover source how he bought a vehicle and armed it for an al-Shabaab squad and that the vehicle was ultimately destroyed while fighting the Ethiopian defense forces supporting the Somalia Transitional Government. Fidse also told the undercover source that, "We are terrorists."

Fidse initially denied making the recorded statements when interviewed by federal investigators and furthermore, refused to provide them with more specifics about the armed vehicle. However, on Dec. 5, 2012, officials said Fidse plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct an immigration proceeding and one count of conspiracy to make a false statement during a terrorism investigation.

On Thursday, Fidse received four years imprisonment for each count to run consecutively.

On Sept. 20, 2012, Sheikh plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to make a false statement in a terrorism investigation. By pleading guilty, officials said Sheikh admitted that she and Fidse conspired to provide false information to authorities to gain entrance into the U.S., as well as provide false information to authorities concerning support for terrorist organizations.

Judge Biery sentenced Sheikh on Wednesday to five years probation.

"This case demonstrates the Joint Terrorism Task Force's commitment to protecting the U.S. from individuals who seek to do us harm by gaining entry to the U.S. through deception, manipulation and violation of the law," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez.

"Homeland Security Investigations' unique law enforcement authorities provide the tools essential to investigating a wide variety of criminal violations and immigration offenses. These authorities proved to be a critical advantage in building a case against Abdullahi Omar Fidse," said HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Vincent Iglio. "HSI will continue to use its vast investigative enforcement authorities to help prosecute those who threaten our national security or provide support to those who intend to do harm against our citizens."