SAN DIEGO — A federal judge refused to grant a new trial to four Somali immigrants convicted of funneling thousands of dollars to a terrorist organization in their native country, in a case built on hundreds of phone calls the government recorded surreptitiously.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller rejected arguments by the men’s attorneys that their Constitutional rights were violated by the tapping of their phones, UT San Diego reported Friday . The judge also ruled that evidence from the case involving National Security Agency surveillance will remain under seal and cannot be released even to the men’s lawyers.
One of the attorneys for the four, Joshua Dratel, said they would appeal.
The men were convicted in February of raising $10,900 in 2007 and 2008 and sending it to al-Shabab, a group authorities say is an al-Qaida-linked militia.
Among the four convicted was Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, a popular imam at a mosque in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood. Authorities say he used his position to raise the money.
Also convicted were San Diego taxi drivers Basaaly Saeed Moalin and Issa Doreh, who prosecutors said helped lead the fundraising drive, and Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, whose financial transfer business was used to deliver the money.
Government attorneys played numerous tapes of telephone calls in court, including those they said were between Moalin and Aden Hashi Ayrow. The latter was among the top leaders of al-Shabaab until he was killed in a missile strike in May 2008.
Defense attorneys argued that Moalin was actually speaking with another person who was seeking aid to help protect people in Somalia from groups like al-Shabab.
Moalin, Mohamud and Doreh are to be sentenced Monday and could face 17 to 26 years in prison. Nasir Mohamud is scheduled to be sentenced in January.