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July 29, 2014

Witness in al-Shabab trial: Minnesotans in Somalia were ‘scared to death’

At least a few of the more than 20 young men who left Minnesota to join a group linked to al-Qaida in Somalia were frightened to leave under threats of death, it was revealed as part of an ongoing trial of Mahamud Said Omar, the first of the men to be put on trial, the Associated Press reports. He’s accused of sending money and Minnesota recruits to the terrorist group al-Shabab.

The trial entered its second week on Tuesday. Testimony has shed new light on how the network of recruiters worked in Minneapolis, the AP reports.

Testimony continued on Tuesday from Salah Osman Ahmed, a 29-year-old New Brighton man who said he was “scared to death” when he arrived as a new recruit for al-Shabab, MPR reports. The trial marks the first time the fighters have publicly spoken at length about their chilling initiation, MPR notes.

One thing is clear already in the trial, the Pioneer Press notes: the investigation was gigantic, involving secret warrants, untold numbers of tapped phone calls, and agents who went to Somalia to sift through remains of a suicide bomber in search of fingerprints and DNA.