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US man convicted of aiding Somalia terror group

Last Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 12:21

Minneapolis: A US man accused of helping send young men to an al Qaeda-linked group in Somalia was convicted on all five terrorism-related charges he faced, including one that could land him in prison for life.

Mahamud Said Omar, 46, nodded quietly as he listened through an interpreter. One of his defense attorneys, Jon Hopeman, said Omar will appeal.

Omar, a mosque janitor, was the first to stand trial in the government`s investigation into what it says was the recruitment of more than 20 men who have left Minnesota since 2007 to join al-Shabab, a US-designated terrorist group that`s blamed for much of the violence that has plagued the East African country.

Prosecutors say Omar helped some recruits from Minnesota`s Somali community, the largest in the US, buy plane tickets to Somalia and gave others USD 1,000 to buy weapons while they were staying in an al-Shabab safe house.

Omar has denied helping al-Shabab. His attorney, Andrew Birrell, portrayed him as a "frightened, little man" who has struggled to adapt to life in the US.

Birrell said the government`s case is based on the corrupt testimony of al-Shabab recruits who repeatedly lied and who testified only because their plea deals required it.

Omar was one of 18 men charged. Seven have pleaded guilty, while others are presumed to be out of the country.

At least six of the men who traveled to Somalia from Minnesota have died, and others are presumed dead, according to family members and the FBI.


First Published: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 12:21
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