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Continued: Two Somalis sentenced to prison for aiding terrorism

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 14, 2013 - 9:32 AM

Three men who went to Somalia to fight testified that Omar arranged their travel. They said Omar flew to Somalia, went to an Al-Shabab safe house in 2008 and provided cash for rifles. Prosecutors said he helped arrange travel for six more recruits in 2008 even after Shirwa Ahmed, of Minneapolis, blew himself up in a suicide attack in Somalia.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty said Omar only stopped recruiting because federal authorities stepped in. He said a long sentence was needed to prevent him from resuming his activities.

In court on Monday, federal prosecutors recommended that Hassan serve no more than 10 to 12 years because of “extraordinary cooperation” with federal investigators.

Hassan pleaded guilty Aug. 12, 2009, to two terror-related counts, and testified against Omar in hopes of receiving a shorter sentence.

Hassan had testified that he left Minneapolis for Somalia in 2007. He went to a training camp where he learned to fight and was featured in a promotional video encouraging other Americans to join the fight. “I was a foot soldier,” he said. “Mujahedeen.”

In 2008, he said, he and other Minnesotans were involved in an ambush of Ethiopian soldiers but that he had not fired a gun. After that, he said he fled Al-Shabab with the help of his family and the FBI.

On Monday, Hassan told Davis he wanted to work and take care of his wife and new child.

“I can do better,” he said. “I know what I did is wrong and illegal … I let my family down, I let my country down and I let my community down. … I cannot express to you how sorry I am for everything I did.”

Davis, paused for a long moment, then stared down at Hassan and said he had heard “a lot of sorries” but thought Hassan was both “very bright” and “very devious.” He said he believed Hassan had lied to authorities when he claimed he did not fire a gun — which Hassan again denied.

Davis also said that while Hassan was being housed in a hotel and supplying information to prosecutors, he was allowed conjugal visits, “bringing a child into the world” who won’t have a father because Hassan was going to prison.

However, Davis, in imposing his sentence, echoed prosecutor William Narus, and defense attorney Manny Atwal in citing Hassan’s cooperation with the FBI. “It is clear the defendant has given extraordinary, extraordinary cooperation,” he said. He was sentenced to 10 years for the two counts of aiding a terrorist organization and eight years for lying to the FBI, both sentences to run concurrently.

Both men have been in jail for several years awaiting sentencing, and it is expected that those years will be deducted from their sentences.

Generally, defendants in federal cases serve 85 percent of their sentences.

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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