Five Twin Cities men accused of trying to join terrorist fighters in Syria are now facing more serious charges.
A new version of the indictment against the men charges them with conspiracy to commit murder overseas, MPR News reports. Previously, they'd been charged with conspiring to aid a terrorist group.
The Star Tribune says the new charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The men – Hamza Ahmed, Adnan Farah, Guled Omar, Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah – are scheduled for trial in February. Three other men have pleaded guilty this year to conspiring to aid the terrorist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL).
In announcing indictments against six of the defendants in April, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota described a "terror recruiting problem" in the state.
The Associated Press reports the court document filed Wednesday (known as a superseding indictment) contains new details about the alleged plot to join Islamic State – describing the men communicating with Islamic State contacts, sharing the phone numbers of contacts in Turkey, and in some cases playing paintball to prepare for combat.
When asked about the new charge of conspiracy to commit murder, the attorney for one of the defendants told the AP there is no evidence that was their goal, adding "This is a political prosecution as part of the flawed U.S. war on terror."