The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the appeal of a former janitor at a Minneapolis mosque who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after his conviction in 2012 of aiding foreign terrorism by helping some young Twin Cities men fly to Somalia to fight for Al-Shabab.
A three-judge panel of the court found that Mahamud Said Omar, 49, had been properly identified by government witnesses. The judges also found that Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis properly withheld from the defense certain evidence obtained pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on grounds that revealing it might harm national security.
The appellate judges reviewed the FISA materials themselves and said they had no hesitation in concluding that federal agents had probable cause to gather electronic evidence used in Omar’s trial, wrote Judge Raymond W. Gruender of St. Louis. He was joined by Judges Diana E. Murphy of Minneapolis and Lavenski R. Smith of Little Rock, Ark.
Omar also argued that Davis should have barred the testimony of Matthew Bryden, a government witness and expert on Somalia who linked Al-Shabab with the notorious terror group Al-Qaida and its late leader, Osama bin Laden. The appellate judges found no abuse of discretion in allowing the testimony, which they noted was relatively brief and relevant to the case.