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10, 20-year prison sentences handed down in al-Shabab case

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A man convicted of recruiting a Minnesota man to fight with the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday.

The Associated Press reports Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis also sentenced another Minneapolis man to 10 years for fighting with al-Shabab in an ambush of Ethiopian troops.

Seven more Minnesota recruits will be sentenced this week. They were convicted last year in what prosecutors describe as one of the biggest efforts to recruit U.S. fighters to join a foreign terrorist group.

Authorities say more than 20 Minnesota men left the state to join al-Shabab. Some were killed, while others are still being pursued. Some of them were allegedly recruited by Mahamud Said Omar, who received the 20-year sentence from Judge Davis.

Most of the defendants cooperated with prosecutors, but Omar's case went to trial last fall. Prosecutors argued Omar used recruits as "cannon fodder" to fuel a pipeline to the violence in Somalia, the AP reports. He was convicted of all five counts against him and could have been sentenced to life in prison. His 20-year sentence will keep him under federal supervision for the rest of his life after his release.

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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 scared 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. He's accused of sending money and Minnesota recruits to the terrorist group al-Shabab. The trial Tuesday enters its second week.

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