Judge denies Minnesota Islamic State suspects release before trial

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A federal judge has rejected requests to allow three Minnesota men accused of trying to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria under supervised release ahead of their trial.

The Star Tribune reports Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said he would wait until September to decide whether to grant a pretrial release to Hamza Ahmed, Zacharia Abdurahman and Hanad Musse.

They are among several Minnesotans accused of trying to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State. Judge Davis said he needs more time to decide whether the "de-radicalization" strategies designed to integrate them back into society would work.

"I'm not going to allow anyone at the first juncture to go home. That's a non-starter," he said, according to the Star Tribune. "This is way too important to treat as a regular criminal case. It has a dynamic to it that we have to address, and hopefully we can.

MPR News reports the defendants' attorneys had come up with a plan allowing Somali-American community leaders to supervise them after release. Before their arrests they had been living with their families, enrolled in college, attending mosques, or were employed.

Davis said the supervision plan for Ahmed "has some merit to it," but again said he wanted more time to consider whether to release the 20-year-old, as well as Abdurahman and Musse, who are both 19.

The news organization said Minnesota's experimentation with releasing terror suspects into rehabilitation programs is being "closely watched" by counterterrorism experts, given that this is not how similar cases are handled elsewhere in the country.

MinnPost reports federal prosecutors objected to the motion to release the trio into de-radicalization programs, saying they posed a "flight risk and a potential danger to the public" and had not shown an eagerness to be rehabilitated.

"There is no evidence that the defendants are seeking intervention," prosecutors said, according to the news outlet. “Rather, it’s being foisted upon them by other well-intentioned individuals."

In January, another of the Minnesotan men charged with trying to join ISIS, Abdullahi Yusuf, was released by Davis so he could receive counseling and education classes as part of an experimental de-radicalization program.

However, he was sent back to jail in April after a utility knife was found under his bed, it was revealed on Monday.

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