MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man pleaded guilty Monday to a terror charge for helping Somali men travel to their homeland to take up arms with the terror group al-Shabab, averting what would have been the first trial in a long-running federal investigation.

Omer Abdi Mohamed, 26, of St. Anthony 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 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.

Charles Kovats, an assistant U.S. attorney, declined to comment for the prosecution.

According to prosecutors, in late 2007 Mohamed and others conspired to raise money to send men to Somalia to violently oust Ethiopian troops that had been called in by the transitional government to fight radical groups. They held meetings at mosques and restaurants, and took measures to keep things secretive.

Mohamed and the others went to malls and apartments, falsely telling members of the Somali community they were raising money to build a mosque or help relief efforts in Somalia, prosecutors said. The money actually went to the recruits, who planned to join one group member’s relative — a senior member of al-Shabab — in Somalia.

Prosecutors said Mohamed used a contact at a local travel agency to get airline tickets. Mohamed admitted in court that he also helped one traveler obtain a false itinerary to mislead his family.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (23)
  1. Terrorists are right wingers says:

    Typical conservative hard at work.

    1. Terrorists are left wingers says:

      Typical liberal hard at work.

  2. The Architect says:

    We can’t even give the death penalty to foreign nationalists attempting to destroy our country and kill our citizens?

    Come on.

    It’s time to kick the tires and light the fires here…

    1. Jake says:

      This post seems off point. He has plead to meddling in the affairs of another country, not the U.S. When the U.S. gets involved in picking winners and losers, like in Libya, it is considered the national interest. When a private individual supports one side, even if it was in ignorance, it is prosecutable.

      If he was supporting a group identified with terrorists, and that support is illegal, his prosecution is appropriate. But aren’t some of the people rebelling in northern Africa being supported by NATO also suspected of terrorism? Finally, exactly how long did we support the Taliban before we either decided or realized they were bad?

      This one doesn’t seem so clear cut.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    Off with his head!!!!

  4. drts says:

    It’s not his fault. There just wasn’t the appropriate government program to help him. Like one that would make travel arrangements for disadvantaged youth.

  5. jan says:

    He gets “up to” 15 years. That means he’ll be out anytime sooner than 15 years. I think a firing squad is a more appropriate punishment. Why isn’t he charged with treason?

  6. drummer says:

    A lawless, failed state full of radical Islamists and pirates. So, what do we do? Bring a bunch of them here to raise hell and live off the rest of us. At least the Hmong can cook..

  7. tina says:

    I wonder if he’s a moolie?

  8. mark from Minnetonka says:

    Dont trust them, and get them out of the country!! Islam is a killing religion!

  9. Jim says:

    We’ve got people here calling for the death penalty for this guy for:

    “Prosecutors say Mohamed participated in secret meetings and helped travelers get airline tickets.”

    Wow, you people are bloodthirsty. Did he kill anyone? Did he help someone kill someone?

    1. quentin says:

      If you read the accounts of the suicide bomber he recruited, the answer to your second question is clearly yes.

  10. Hang Em Hight says:

    The Somalians all need to go the f*** home!! I am tired of there bs attitude! They stink and just in general p+++ me off…..STOP IMMIRGRATION INTO MN NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Tory says:

      Run for president yea

    2. Admin. of Chafin' Totz says:

      ever been to st. cloud its infested

    3. Zino says:

      Clearly you are the alter-ego for some democrat lawmakers.

  11. tina says:

    somalians smell like curry and crotch odor.

  12. Jeff "Gangsta" J says:

    When somalians fart, it only makes them smell BETTER!!

  13. trl the alligator says:

    ….i say gime him 10 years….he’ll be out in 7 at which time we should deport him AND his family to Somalia. At least there he will be able to join and fight directly for “his cause”……and i agree—-they do smell because they refuse to wear deoderant and bathe.

  14. chibby says:

    I can speak from experience, they are down right nasty too. I lived in a building
    that housed many of them. When the women had their monthly, they did not
    use pads like we do, they just bled all over the place and left their mess for
    someone else to clean up.

  15. steven says:

    Better there than here . MOOKS got to love them, silly backwards people.