US Somali man pleads guilty to terror charge

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 13:43

Minneapolis: A man pleaded guilty to a
terror charge for helping Somali men travel to their homeland to fight for the terror group al-Shabab, averting what would have been the first trial in a long-running federal investigation.

Omer Abdi Mohamed, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of
conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists,
specifically admitting that he helped provide people in a
conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people in a foreign
country. Prosecutors said he faces up to 15 years in prison
and supervised release for the rest of his life when he is
sentenced at a later date.

Mohamed entered his plea the day before he was to face
trial on six counts. Mohamed didn`t travel to Somalia, but
admitted that he attended secret meetings and helped recruits
get airline tickets.

At least 21 Somalis are believed to have traveled from
America to Somalia to join the terror group al-Shabab in what
began as a push to expel Ethiopian soldiers seen as invaders.

At least four Minnesota men have died— two by suicide
bombings. In the U.S., an investigation centered in
Minneapolis continues, with an 18th person charged just last
month.

Previous plea bargains have kept evidence in the
investigation mostly under wraps, and Mohamed`s trial had the
potential to reveal more about the recruiting than has been
known before.

Mohamed`s attorney, Peter Wold, said Mohamed chose to
plead guilty because he has a young son and another child on
the way, and faced the possibility of a much longer sentence
if convicted. Wold described his client as someone who was
motivated by patriotic feeling and didn`t know at the time of
his actions what al-Shabab was about, and now opposes
al-Shabab.

"He was only involved in a mission to go protect
Somalia," Wold said, adding that Mohamed later encouraged some
of the travelers to return home.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 13:43

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