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A Somali man detained two years ago by the US military in the Gulf of Aden has pleaded guilty to supporting Islamist militants in the region, officials said Monday.
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, described as being in his mid-20s, pleaded guilty to a nine-count indictment over his extensive involvement with Somalia's Shebab and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, US prosecutors said in a statement.
Both organizations are classified as terrorist groups by the US government.
The plea, made in December 2011 but only unsealed now, also included weapons possession and dealing and conspiring to teach bomb making. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
News of the plea marked the resurfacing of Warsame, who was detained in April 2011 between Somalia and Yemen, but was then questioned "for intelligence purposes for more than two months," the statement said.
After agreeing to waive his rights, the statement said, "he spoke to law enforcement agents for several days." He was then brought to Manhattan in July 2011.
"The capture of Warsame and his lengthy interrogation for intelligence purposes, followed by his thorough questioning by law enforcement agents, was an intelligence watershed," Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said.
"Warsame's capture, cooperation, and prosecution is a major victory for the United States, for its citizens and for justice."
According to acting assistant attorney general for national security John Carlin, Warsame was "a critical link between two foreign terrorist organizations and was an operational terrorist leader, commanding hundreds of fighters."