The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 14, 2013

Man gets 20 years in Somali terror investigation

(Continued)

“I don’t know you. The government doesn’t know you. Your family doesn’t know you,” Davis told Hassan. Still, he said Hassan was the first person to come forward and shed a light on terror recruiting in Minneapolis, and he granted the lower sentence.

Hassan will also be on supervised release for 20 years after he is out of prison.

Authorities say the conspiracy began in 2007, when small groups of Somali men began holding secret meetings to talk about returning to their homeland to wage jihad against Ethiopians.

The Ethiopian army was brought into Somalia in 2006 by its weak U.N.-backed government, but the troops were viewed by many Somalis as invaders.

Hassan has said he was told it was his “duty” to fight against Ethiopians.

Omar also made a lengthy statement before he was sentenced — much of it was incoherent and rambling. He denied taking part in the conspiracy, and said his attorneys were “disrespecting” him because they told him not to write the judge a letter.

During Omar’s trial, prosecutors alleged Omar, a janitor at a local mosque, used recruits as “cannon fodder” and helped feed them into a pipeline of violence in their homeland.

They said he continued to help travelers with logistics and money even in the days after a Minnesotan carried out a suicide bombing in Somalia in 2008. Prosecutors say most of men who left in that group of travelers have died.

“The pain, physical and psychological, that the defendant’s crimes have causes, both here in Minnesota and in Somalia, is almost incalculable, as is the threat his participation in international terrorism posed to the national security of the United States,” prosecutors wrote in documents filed in advance of Omar’s sentencing. They sought a sentence of 50 years in prison.

Omar’s defense attorneys argued in court documents that he was a passive participant who didn’t know any better and held no power.

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