MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An informant who gave authorities information in the case against seven young Minnesota men accused of plotting to join the Islamic State group was paid nearly $42,000 over less than five months, according to a court document filed Thursday.
The document was filed by attorneys for six of the men charged with conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terror group. It’s among several documents filed in advance of a Sept. 2 hearing in the case.
Defense attorneys are asking the court to order the government to reveal the informant’s identity and make the informant available to the defense to interview. They also want to know whether the informant, who recorded conversations with the defendants and gave the FBI reports about other conversations, has a prior criminal record.
Defense attorney Andrew Birrell wrote that the informant was paid $41,725 from January through May 27.
Birrell also wrote: “… the informant has been paid in the most valuable currency of all — his freedom. Despite lying under oath multiple times and having participated in the same conduct charged in the indictment, the informant remains free. The informant’s credibility and motivation will be central to the defense.”
Government documents in the case show the informant had once planned to travel to Syria himself but began cooperating with the FBI in January. The government has also said that the informant previously lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury.
The use of an informant in the case has angered some in the Somali community, who claimed the men were entrapped.
According to an FBI affidavit, the government’s months-long investigation was aided by recordings made by the informant. During an April hearing, an FBI agent testified that up to that point, the informant had been paid nearly $13,000.
FBI Special Agent Harry Samit testified that the informant was paid for expenses and “services,” and that he had been asked to gather evidence against people involved in “the most violent terrorist group in the world.” Samit added that the investigation was broader than just the informant’s evidence.
Samit also said at that time that the informant had been relocated at FBI expense but wasn’t in custody, adding that the government made no promises that he would not be prosecuted in the future.
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