Al-Shabab, the Somali anti-government group, has attracted fighters from countries as distant as Sweden [AFP]

Two Swedish citizens of Somali origin have been charged with "planning terrorist crimes" in Somalia.

They were charged on Friday at the Gothenburg District Court for plotting to commit suicide attacks with the aim of "murder" or "maiming" a large number of people and causing "massive damage to property".

The charge sheet said that there was a significant likelihood that the crimes would have been carried out had they not been intercepted.

Investigators said the men, Mohamoud Jama, 22, and Bille Ilias Mohamed, 26, are supporters of al-Shabab, which is fighting the Somali government and controls most of southern and central Somalia.

Police arrested the suspects in May and June as part of an investigation into what they call Somalia-linked terrorism activities in Sweden.

The prosecution, which based its case on interrogations of the two suspects, witness accounts and tapped telephone conversations, claimed to have proof the two men had been in contact with Yassin Ismail Ahmed, an al-Shabab leader.

The recorded telephone conversations also showed that Mohamed had attended an al-Shabab training camp in Somalia and that he aimed to "return to Somalia and wanted to become a martyr", the charge sheet said.

Both suspects have denied the allegations.

A clerk at the Gothenburg court said a verdict was likely to be reached by the end of November.

Since 2006, about 20 Swedish citizens have been travelling to Somalia to join armed groups. The Swedish government has entrusted the intelligence service with investigating "Islamic extremism" in the country.

Last year, Swedish radio reported that a leader at a community youth centre linked to a mosque in a Stockholm suburb was recruiting young men to fight for al-Shabab.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies