Admitted terrorist now facing ISIS charges in Beaumont

Jack Brooks Federal Courthouse, Beaumont

Just released from federal prison after serving the better part of a decade behind bars for allegiances made with jihadi fighters in Somalia in 2009, convicted terrorist Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed is now alleged to be providing support to the terrorist organization typically referred to as ISIS while in Beaumont, prosecutors contend in new charges unsealed in court this past week.

Among the accusations made against the 43-year-old Eritrean-born Ahmed – also known under the aliases of Talha, Mohammed El Eritri and Abu Zakaria – is that, between 2014 and May 2017, he attempted to provide “material support and resources” to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), aka the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), “to wit: personnel and services.”

Ahmed was hit with this charge and others just days before he was set to be released from federal prison for terrorism charges he admitted to in New York in 2012, stemming from a 2009 arrest and deportation from Nigeria.

Ahmed offered no defense for the evidence the government presented at that time that showed the accused operative traveled to Somalia in April 2009 “for the purpose of receiving jihad training at an al-Shabab paramilitary camp.” While in Somalia, not only did Ahmed provide the terrorists there with cash currency as a donation, he also spent loot for goods as well, purchasing a Kalashnikov rifle (commonly referred to as an AK-47), and two grenades.

Additionally, the government showed, Ahmed took lessons on bomb-making and bomb-detonation, learning tricks of the terrorism trade, “including instructions for the preparation and/or assembly of: silver fulminate; urea nitrate; ammonium nitrate; acetone peroxide; a TNT oxidation mechanism in a nitric-sulfuric acid mixture; a bomb detonator; and different types of bomb fuses.”

Ahmed was found in possession of the instructions while in Nigeria later that same year.

However, despite the evidence used to the secure the New York conviction, Ahmed still purported to Beaumont federal investigators that he had no knowledge of bomb-making procedures – which is why he faces additional charges of providing false statements involving national terrorism tacked on to the new terrorism charges sparked in Jefferson County. Investigators further claim that Ahmed not only knew how to make a bomb, but he also discussed “the construction of a bomb with another inmate” and then lied about that, too, to FBI agents in Beaumont.

Ahmed pleaded guilty in June 2012 to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (al-Shabab) and one count of conspiracy to receive military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization (al-Shabab). In March 2013, he was sentenced to serve 111 months in prison for the crimes against the nation.

Ahmed was released from federal custody on Monday, Dec. 11, according to the Bureau of Prisons inmate locator.

Also on Monday, Dec. 11, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Christopher Tortorice requested that the local court hold Ahmed without bail for four counts of attempting to provide material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations and making false statements involving international terrorism. Tortorice argued to the court that there is a “serious risk the defendant will flee” as well as noted added concerns that Ahmed’s detainment was necessary to assure his appearance in court and “the safety of the community.”

A hearing was originally set for the following day, but Ahmed argued that he would need an interpreter to continue further court proceedings. Ahmed has been remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals until a new hearing, with an interpreter present, can be held Thursday, Dec. 14.

In advance of sentencing in 2013 for his previous terrorism charge, Ahmed and his attorneys tendered a memorandum to the court asking for leniency in light of the fact that the accused, who had grown up in a war-torn region the victim of abuse and a fractured family, had already seen the error of his ways.

“He is filled with remorse over his actions, and to the extent he can, he has tried to make up for his conduct by providing information to the authorities and being an exemplary prisoner.

“For Mr. Ahmed, the fight is over,” the March 11, 2013, memorandum read. “He poses no threat to society, and will not re-offend.”

One year later, while in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons in Beaumont, prosecutor Tortorice alleges Ahmed did re-offend, however. 

Should he be convicted of the charges currently pending against him in Beaumont, Ahmed could face up to eight years in prison for each of the three pending false statement charges, and 20 years in prison for the terroristic support allegation, on top of monetary penalties, special assessments, and supervised release.