By Timothy Mclaughlin
Three Somali-American men in Minnesota were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 30 to 35 years on Wednesday for conspiring to aid the Islamic State militant group, according to the Department of Justice. The three men - Mohamed Farah, Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar - are part of a larger group of nine Minnesota men sentenced this week for attempting to assist the Islamic State in 2014 and early 2015. Farah and Daud, both 22, were sentenced to 30 years in prison. Omar, 22, received 35 years, the harshest sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, the Justice Department said in a statement. The Islamic State holds territory in Iraq and Syria and has sympathizers and recruits around the world who have carried out shootings and bombings of civilians.Farah was convicted in June of conspiring to commit murder in Syria on behalf of the militant and for lying to a grand jury and FBI agents.Daud was also convicted of conspiring to aid the Islamic State in June, but jurors acquitted him of a perjury charge.
Omar, in addition to conspiring to help the militant group, was also convicted in June of using $5,000 of student financial aid to help finance the plot to assist the Islamic State. The three men made persistent efforts to join the group from early 2014 through April 2015, prosecutors charged. Six others in the group were sentences ranging from time served to 15 years in prison on Monday and Tuesday.
Farah denied that he was a terrorist when asked by the judge in court on Wednesday, ABC affiliate KSTP reported. "What I say to you is that the actions I’ve done are what terrorists would do but that I feel like I’m not, your honour," Farah was quoted as saying by KSTP. "ISIL remains one of the most dangerous terror organizations in the world," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement after the sentences were handed down using a different name for Islamic State.
"The defendants sentenced today remind us that this ideology ruins the lives of those who ascribe to it."The three had an "unbreakable desire to kill on behalf of ISIL," Luger added. The Minneapolis area is home to a large population of Somali expatriates. In 2014, FBI officials said they had begun tracking a trickle of Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area to Syria in general and to Islamic State-held areas in particular. (Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Grant McCool and Alistair Bell)
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