Esme’s Blog: Justice For Somali-Americans

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Late this week, as the verdicts in the terror trial of two Somali-American women were announced, a hundred of their supporters gathered outside the Federal Courthouse. I was one of the first reporters to make it outside after the verdicts. Several women saw me and asked what the verdict was. I could see the fear and tension in their eyes. When I told them that both women had been convicted on all counts, one asked, “Years, how many years?” I told them that Amina Farah Ali was facing up to 185 years in prison and that Hawo Hassan faced 31. The supporters, one by one, began weeping. A separate cluster of men began shouting angrily.

In the next hour I would hear angry denunciations, claims that the women had been convicted for their religious beliefs and that the American justice system was prejudiced against Somali-Americans.

I am not sure if any of these supporters really had heard details of the testimony against the women. The testimony against Amina Farah Ali was especially overwhelming. Hours of FBI wiretaps had captured her clearly plotting to send money to Al-Shabab.

I couldn’t help but wonder if these supporters, many of whom did not speak English well, had ever heard a true account of the evidence against Ali and Hasan. As the tears and anger continued to flow outside the courthouse, inside prosecutors were talking to reporters. Prosecutor John Marti said simply this case was not about religion, it was about the acts of these two women. Justice was in fact served that day. It is regrettable that some in the Somali-American community are convinced it was not.

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