Al Shabaab Commander Turned Cooperating Witness?

By Robert Chesney
Monday, May 14, 2012, 4:41 PM

An important story from Ben Weiser at the New York Times, from this morning, describes an interesting new development in the prosecution of Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed--a case that receives little attention, but is in fact quite important.  Ahmed is an Eritrean citizen and Swedish resident, arrested in Nigeria in 2009 on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.  He was interrogated there by the Nigerian authorities first, then by a team of U.S. investigators (possibly from the HIG, but the public record does not say) who did not provide any Miranda warnings, and then later by an FBI "clean team" that did read and obtain a waiver of rights.  Then Ahmed was brought to the US to face prosecution on material support charges relating to al Shabaab.  This past December, there was a hearing on Ahmed's motion to suppress the fruits of all of the aforementioned interrogations, the outcome of which will be interesting in terms of assessing the pros and cons of a strategy in which criminal prosecution is used as a back-end detention mechanism but only after an initial period of non-Mirandized interrogation.   I will certainly post about that ruling once it comes down (surely not too much longer now...).

In the meantime, Weiser's most recent story on the case caught my eye because it speculates that the government may be planning to call Ahmed Warsame -- you know, the Somali citizen and member of al Shabaab who had been with AQAP in Yemen and then was captured in the Gulf of Aden, held on a US Navy vessel for two months, and then flown into the US for civilian criminal prosecution--as a witness in the case against Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed.  More specifically, Weiser notes that the government has indicated that it will present testimony from a cooperating witness who seems to fit Warsame's profile (and there are few if any other persons who would).  All of which suggests that Warsame's own case is going to result in a plea-and-cooperation agreement, which could well go down as a big victory for the Obama administration in its handling of his difficult fact pattern.