The three Minnesota men who pleaded not guilty to charges they planned to fight for the Islamic State overseas were each sentenced to 30-plus years in prison – the lengthiest sentences of any of the defendants in the high-profile terror case.
The U.S. Attorney's Office announced the sentences Wednesday.
Guled Omar tried twice to cross the U.S. border from San Diego into Mexico, with the goal being to fly overseas and join the Islamic State. But both times he was stopped (first by his family, then by federal agents). Omar, 22 years old, was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday.
Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud meanwhile each got a slightly shorter sentence of 30 years in prison. They tried to purchase fake passports (from an undercover agent) in order to cross from San Diego into Mexico, and then to travel to Syria. They were arrested right after buying the fake documents.
"The defendants sentenced today remind us that this ideology ruins the lives of those who ascribe to it," said U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger in a news release. "Omar, Daud and Farah will spend the next several decades in prison because of their unbreakable desire to kill on behalf of ISIL."
All nine sentenced now
Six other Minnesota men charged with ISIL-related crimes were also sentenced this week.
Two that cooperated with authorities and testified against others were given the lightest sentences: Time served for one, and 2 1/2 years in prison for the other.
The four who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to support the Islamic State – but did not cooperate with the government – were given sentences ranging from 10-15 years.
There were actually two more Minnesota men charged as well, but both are believed to have fled to Syria to join the Islamic State.
One group argues entrapment
A group called the Anti-War Committee held a rally Wednesday arguing the ISIL cases here in Minnesota were built on entrapment – essentially, an undercover law enforcement agent came up with the idea for the crime, then encouraged the suspects to take part, or even helped facilitate it.
The use of an informant in these cases has been well-documented. Here's The Guardian writing about what role Abdirahman Bashir played in the case. He was at first in on the plans to travel overseas. But as things progressed, he began "looking for a way out" and agreed to be an informant for the FBI, The Guardian reported. That included recording and monitoring the others.
Bashir testified during the trial.
Specifically referencing Omar, Daud, and Farah (the ones who went to trial and were sentenced to 30-plus years), the Anti-War Committee said: "The three youths refused to bow to the enormous pressure of the federal prosecutor to plead guilty to the charges and the threat of possible life sentences. They put their fates in the hands of a jury. The case was built on entrapment by an FBI informant, a sting operation set up by the FBI, lurid videos of ISIS brutality and guilt by association."
More than 100 members of the Somali community attended, Fight Back News reports,
"These boys got 30 and 35 years. That’s not even the verdict that murderers get," said Farah's mother, Ayan Farah, during the rally.
And here's video from the event:
Posted by Anti-War Committee on Wednesday, November 16, 2016