MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man who pleaded guilty last year to helping young Somali men leave Minnesota and return to their homeland to fight with the terror group al-Shabab was in custody Monday following an arrest for allegedly violating terms of his release.
Omer Abdi Mohamed pleaded guilty last year to one terror-related count in the government’s investigation into the recruitment and travels of more than 20 young men who authorities believe have left Minnesota since 2007 to join the al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia.
Mohamed, who admitted helping some of the men get tickets for travel, claimed he was never a terrorist but motivated by patriotism and a push to expel Ethiopian troops that had been called in to restore order to Somalia by its U.N.-backed government. He said his involvement ended before the U.S. designated al-Shabab a terrorist group.
He had been free on electronic monitoring pending his sentencing, but he was arrested Friday after prosecutors say he violated conditions of his release.
Prosecutors filed their arguments in court under seal, but defense attorney Peter Wold said in a letter to the court that Mohamed was accused of lying to a probation officer about employment. Wold said Mohamed was truthful when he told the officer he was working as a consultant for groups wanting to set up daycares.
But his arrest came after a related trial in which government witnesses claimed that Mohamed took a lead role in recruiting fighters in 2007, and used the Quran to persuade the recruits.
Wold said he hadn’t heard that claim against his client before. He also said the government recently “raised a vague allegation of concerns related to testimony” in the trial, but he didn’t elaborate.
A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
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