An alleged terrorist facing trial in New York City justified killing innocent people in suicide bomb attacks as a 'forgivable sin comparable to masturbation', court papers show.
Ali Yasin Ahmed made the twisted claim during conversations in 2008 intercepted by federal authorities as they put him and co-defendants Mahdi Hashi and Mohammed Yusuf under surveillance.
All three are to stand trial in Brooklyn charged with providing financial and material support to Somalian based militant group al-Shabaab, which has merged with al-Qaeda.
The recorded messages were presented to the federal court and reveal Yusuf expressing his doubts to Ahmed about traveling to Somalia in November, 2008, because he was frightened of becoming a suicide bomber in the war-torn nation.
Ahmed though calms his would-be terror colleague's fears by telling him that in his interpretation of Islam, suicide bombing attacks on civilians were easily justified.
'Ahmed minimized the significance of suicide bombings against civilian targets and suggested that if such attacks were in fact a sin, they were an immaterial, forgivable sin comparable to masturbation,' wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Seth DuCharme and Richard Tucker in court papers submitted last week.
The three al-Shabaab members were commanded from the United States by Arabi-American Jehad Mostafa, who lived in San Diego and was on the FBI's most wanted list.
After they traveled to Somalia, Hashi, 25, joined a suicide bombing squad and Ahmed, 29 and Yusuf, 31 underwent training standard military training.
Indeed, once in the troubled African nation, Yusuf appeared in a 2010 al-Shabaab propaganda video which was titled, 'Inspire the Believers', which was used as a recruiting tool.
They are also accused of threatening to behead Lars Vilks, the Danish cartoonist who was drew a sketch mocking the Prophet Mohammad.
Lawyers for the three are attempting to dismiss the charges, claiming the is no reason to prosecute the them in the United States.
"The goals of the charged conspiracy, to recruit Americans and other westerners to join al-Shabaab, and then to use violence to impact U.S. foreign policy — and the United States, clearly supports prosecution," the government argued in court papers.
If the three are found guilty they will spend life in prison.