Three Somali-American men from Minnesota made persistent efforts to join ISIS militants in Syria and conspired to help the group, a prosecutor said in closing arguments on Tuesday in their federal jury trial.
Mohamed Farah, Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar are charged with conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State and commit murder outside the United States, charges that could result in a life sentence for each if they are convicted.
They participated wholeheartedly in the conspiracy from early 2014 through April 2015, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty told jurors in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.
They were going to put themselves under the control of Islamic State, and they knew that they would be ordered to kill and would have to carry out those orders, Docherty said.
In all, prosecutors brought similar charges against 10 men they said were part of a group of extended family and friends who sometimes took classes on Islam together, hung out and also planned to go overseas to fight for the militants the United States has designated a terror group.
Six men pleaded guilty to providing material support to Islamic State, some testifying at trial. A seventh man is believed to be in Syria, leaving Omar, Farah and Daud to face trial.
The trial has exposed tensions in Minnesota’s Somali community, where some believe the men were entrapped.
Docherty said the defendants made “persistent efforts” to join Islamic State and the evidence supported the testimony of friends turned witnesses. Even if you discount their testimony, the tapes show their participation, he said.
Prosecutors presented two dozen witnesses, plus audiotaped conversations to support charges the defendants planned extensively to travel to Syria and fight with Islamic State, and talked openly of killing people.
Farah and Daud did not present any witnesses during the trial. Omar took the stand, testifying that his taped conversations were boasts or taken out of context.
Defense attorneys said in opening statements that the Islamic State videos were repugnant and the defendants made inflammatory remarks, but the government lacked sufficient evidence to prove the men intended to travel to Syria and fight for Islamic State.
Farah and Daud also are charged with perjury and Farah with making a false statement to FBI agents. Omar is also charged with attempting to use $5,000 in federal student aid to fund travel to Syria.