“Mr. Omar was a pawn who, because of his mental disabilities became involved in an organization whose evil was far more advanced than he could comprehend,” defense attorney Andrew Birrell wrote.
Hassan, who was convicted on two terror-related counts and one count of lying to the FBI, has admitted that he went to Somalia to fight against Ethiopians, trained with al-Shabab and left after participating in an ambush of Ethiopian troops.
Prosecutors wrote that, to date, neither al-Shabab’s designation as a terrorist group nor the prosecutions of men in the U.S. have stemmed the flow of support from Minnesota.
“Given the compelling need to deter the continued threat that home-grown terrorists and those that support them pose to the United States and our allies,” prosecutors wrote, “a substantial term of imprisonment would send a clear message to any would-be jihadists that such conduct is not tolerated by the U.S. government.”