Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Somalian's contempt charges reinstated

19 September 2012, 10:00

Minneapolis - A federal judge in Minnesota reinstated contempt charges Tuesday for a Somali woman who cited religious beliefs when she refused to stand for the court during the first two days of her high-profile terrorism trial last year.

Amina Farah Ali was convicted last fall of funnelling money to terror group al-Shabaab in Somalia, though she claimed she was raising money for charity. She is in a halfway house awaiting sentencing on 13 terror-related counts, including conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation.

During the first two days of her trial, she refused to stand 20 times when those in the courtroom were ordered to rise. Chief US District Judge Michael Davis found her in contempt each time and sentenced her to a total of 100 days.

But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated 19 of Ali's contempt charges in June and sent the issue back to Davis to reconsider, saying he must determine whether his order to stand was the least restrictive way to keep order in the courtroom. The appeals court said Davis had to balance the need for order while avoiding placing "substantial burdens on sincere religious practices."

On Tuesday, Davis ruled that Ali was in contempt. He reinstated all the charges against her, but purged her 100-day sentence.

Davis said that because of the heightened publicity in the case — the courtroom was filled with spectators during most of the trial — the court took extra measures to ensure order.

Extra security officers were on hand throughout the trial, cellphones were ordered to be turned off, signs about courtroom rules were posted in the hall in English and Somali, and one room outside the courtroom was set aside for Muslims who wanted to pray.

Difficult position

He also said he reached out to elders and leaders of the Somali community and told them he would be insisting on order in his court. He said he believed those elders intervened when a group of men in the gallery chose not to stand at one point, and the issue was resolved.

Davis added that he spent a lot of time talking about Ali's religious beliefs, and pulled her aside so she and the attorneys could talk to him out of the public's earshot. He said when Ali changed her mind and chose to stand on the third day of her trial, it showed her beliefs could change.

Her attorney had argued that under Ali's interpretation of Islam, she felt she "should not rise for persons when she does not rise for the prophet". But she began standing after she was visited in jail by clerics who told her she could stand if she were in a difficult position.

Ali and her co-defendant, Hawo Hassan, were among 20 people charged in Minnesota's long-running federal investigations into recruiting and financing for al-Shabaab, which the US considers a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda.

Prosecutors said the two women went door-to-door in the name of charity and held religious teleconferences to solicit donations, which they then routed to the fighters. Defence attorneys painted the women as humanitarians giving money to orphans and poor people, as well as to a group they felt was working to push foreign troops out of Somalia.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...