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Washington - Three women were arrested on Wednesday on charges of conspiring to raise money for Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab, the Justice Department said.

The women, two living in the United States and one living in the Netherlands, are believed to have directed a network composed primarily of women that funnelled money to conduits in Kenya and Somalia, the department said in a statement.

The money, which the women said was intended for orphans, was in fact promoting al-Shabaab's violent insurgent campaign in Somalia, it said.

Muna Osman Jama, 34, of Reston, Virginia, and Hinda Osman Dhriane, 44, of Kent, Washington, were arrested in their homes on Wednesday, as was Farhia Hassan at her home in the Netherlands.

Two other women involved in the operation: Fardowsa Jama Mohamed, who is a fugitive in Kenya, and Barira Hassan Abdullahi, a fugitive in Somalia.

The women had been indicted in June on charges of providing material support to al-Shabaab, which the United States has designated a foreign terrorist organisation, the department said. - Reuters