A senior member of the al-Shabaab terror group was secretly brought to the U.S. early Tuesday to stand trial in federal court after spending months giving "valuable intelligence" about al-Qaida's operations in Somalia and Yemen.
Ahmed Abdulqadir Warsame, of Somalia, was arrested April 19 in the Persian Gulf region by the U.S. military and kept on a Navy ship at sea, where he was questioned by a team of U.S. interrogators.
"He gave us very valuable intelligence," one official said.
The officials declined to say exactly where the arrest took place.
Officials say Warsame was in a special position to reveal details about al-Qaida's operations in both Somalia and Yemen, the official added.
They describe him as a go-between for the two groups, and say he spent the past year in Yemen.
In the indictment made public Tuesday, prosecutors allege that Warsame conspired to provide material support to al-Shabaab, resulting in the death of at least one person.
He also allegedly fought on behalf of the extremist group in Somalia in 2009, and "provided other forms of support to the terrorist organization, including explosives, weapons, communications equipment, expert advice and assistance and training," the indictment reads.
One law enforcement official said the information Warsame provided "has been used to get a better understanding of what we're up against" with al-Qaida in Yemen.
Officials said he was questioned for months by intelligence officials. When intelligence officials finished their work, justice officials came in after a four-day break, read him his rights, and he continued talking and cooperating for some time.
He was brought to New York early Tuesday morning and charges were unsealed later in federal court.
"As alleged, Ahmed Warsame was a conduit between al-Shabaab and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula -- two deadly terrorist organizations -- providing material support and resources to them both," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. Warsame is also accused of receiving weapons and explosives training in Yemen; he faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted. There's nothing in the charges to suggest he had any role in specific al-Qaida plots, other U.S. officials say.
"He would teach and demonstrate the making and use of explosives and destructive devices," according to the indictment.
Officials say the decision to bring him to the U.S. to stand trial in a civilian court was unanimous among federal agencies, including the Defense Department.
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