MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A young man who had threatened local FBI agents was set free Tuesday in part because of a U.S. Supreme court ruling 10 days ago.
Mohamed Ali Omar, the older brother of one of seven Minnesota terror suspects accused of trying to join ISIS, was found guilty in March of threatening FBI agents who came to his south Minneapolis home to investigate his brother.
But on Tuesday he walked out of federal custody. A judge will decide in September if his conviction should be tossed out and if he should get a new trial.
It was just eight days ago that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Pennsylvania case (Elonis vs. U.S.) that threatening words in some cases could be protected free speech.
Omar had already served seven months in jail, and in a note to Federal Judge Michael Davis he apologized for his actions.
Omar said he did not intend to threaten agents; he was merely defending his sister.
“I am just glad that I am out,” he said. “Most of this stuff was just a big misunderstanding.”
The confrontation happened last November, just after his brother Guled Ali Omar was stopped from boarding a plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for what prosecutors say was an attempt to leave the country to join ISIS.
Guled Omar told agents he was just going to California. While he was not arrested, FBI agents did come to the Omar home in South Minneapolis It was there that court documents say Mohamed Omar threatened to “put down” and “get” agents, and that he had a “permit to carry.”
Mohamed Omar was arrested and has been in jail ever since. Guled Omar was arrested in April and is one of seven Minnesota friends charged with plotting to join ISIS.
Of his brother’s case, Mohamed Omar would only say, “It’s been pretty tough, it’s been pretty tough.”
Mohamed Omar will be on electronic home monitoring until the judge rules in September whether his conviction should be thrown out. Even if the judge orders a new trial, he would likely not do any more time. He has already done seven months, which is the average sentence for threatening federal agents.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, one of the seven accused terror suspects, made his first Minnesota court appearance on Tuesday. He had been jailed in San Diego, where prosecutors say he had traveled to pick up a fake passport.
Farah’s mother had complained she had not been able to visit him or talk to him by phone, and said it was a relief to have him back in Minnesota.
Mohamed Farah will be in court again Thursday, when the subject of secretly recordings made by an FBI informant will certainly come up. On those recordings prosecutors say Farah can be heard threatening the lives of Minneapolis FBI agents.
Supporters of the young men insist they are victims of entrapment.