18:18 GMT26 January 2020
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    A former FBI linguist was indicted Monday after allegedly obstructing an investigation and lying to the FBI by misidentifying his own voice on a recording of a conversation with a terrorism investigation suspect.

    Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie, better known as Haji Raghe, worked as a federal contractor to the FBI in 2016 when he allegedly covered up his past contacts with a terrorism investigation suspect after stumbling across a conversation between the two of them in recordings he was transcribing at the time.

    Wehelie worked with the FBI to translate or summarize roughly 252 phone calls recorded by court-authorized surveillance of a suspect identified only as Person A in court documents. When he came across a call allegedly made to him from the suspect, he recorded the person as "UM" or "unidentified male" instead of identifying himself as the recipient.

    When investigators later questioned him about this, he allegedly dodged their questions and only slowly admitted to having known the suspect. However, investigators allege the two were in telephone contact as early as 2010.

    Fox News reported that Suspect A was Liban Haji Mohamed, a former Virginia cab driver who left the US to join al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group in Somalia with ties to al-Qaeda.

    The 66-year-old Wehelie was arrested at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, DC, on Saturday as he arrived on a flight, Fox News reported. He was arraigned in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom Monday where he was charged with one count of obstructing an investigation and seven counts of making false statements to the FBI.

    If convicted, Wehelie could face 25 years in prison, according to a statement by the Department of Justice.

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    Tags:
    translation, phone calls, lying, obstruction, investigation, terror, suspect, linguistics, al-Shabaab, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice, Virginia
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