Somalia: Islamic Courts leader acquitted of terror

A judge in northern Somalia convicted nine people Saturday of crimes linked to plotting terrorist attacks against the breakaway republic of Somaliland, but acquitted the Islamic Courts' top leader and one other, an official said. Regional court judge Abdirahman Gama Ayan ordered the nine people convicted to serve prison sentences of between 20 and 25 years, Somaliland's presidential spokesman Abdi Idiris Du'aleh said by telephone from the region's capital, Hargeisa. Aran cleared Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Council of Islamic Courts that control much of southern Somalia, and the Islamic Courts' military commander Aden Hashi Ayro, saying there was not enough evidence to convict them of plotting terrorist acts in September and October 2005, Du'aleh said. Among those sentenced to 25 years in prison was a prominent Somaliland Islamic leader, Sheik Mohamed Ismail, who was convicted of crimes linked to terrorism, smuggling illegal weapons and explosives, said Ismail Mohamed, who listened to the court's verdict.