MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Five Minnesota men accused of plotting to join the Islamic State group are now charged with a new count of conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States, according to a superseding indictment filed Wednesday that offers some new details about steps the men took as they allegedly planned to get to Syria.
Prosecutors say the men are part of a group of friends in Minnesota’s Somali community who recruited and inspired each other to join the terrorist organization. Three members of the group have pleaded guilty, but the rest — Hamza Naj Ahmed, 20; Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21; Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19; Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21; and Guled Ali Omar, 21 — are scheduled to stand trial in February.
The new indictment alleges some of the men began talking about fighting with the Islamic State group as early as March 2014. As part of their planning, the indictment says, some of the men communicated with Islamic State members overseas, some supplied an informant with materials for fake passports and some played paintball to prepare for combat.
The 14-count indictment charges all five men with conspiracy to commit murder outside the U.S. and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. It also charges all but Adnan Farah with attempting to provide such support. Some of the new charges include perjury counts against Adnan Farah, Mohamed Farah and Daud for allegedly lying to the federal grand jury.
Some defense attorneys took issue with the conspiracy to commit murder count. Daud’s attorney, Bruce Nestor, said: “These young men did not conspire to commit murder or any act of violence. This is a political prosecution as part of the flawed U.S. war on terror.”
Ahmed’s attorney, JaneAnne Murray, added: “There’s no evidence to support that this was a goal that any of these defendants joined in. There’s no evidence to support that my client had the kind of intent this charge requires.”
The indictment says some members of the group provided others with telephone numbers they could use in Turkey to contact members of the Islamic State group. It also says that Daud and Adnan Farah used social media to communicate with a self-described Islamic State member in Syria who gave them information about the best way to travel to join the fighting.
The indictment also says that on April 19, Daud and Mohamed Farah allegedly received fake passports from an undercover FBI employee in San Diego, California. They were both arrested that day in San Diego, while most of the other members of the group were arrested in Minnesota.
Adnan Farah’s attorney, Kenneth Udoibok, said the superseding indictment didn’t surprise him, and he believes the government is being heavy-handed with his young client. Glenn Bruder, Omar’s attorney, said he hadn’t seen the indictment and couldn’t comment. Mohamed Farah’s attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Authorities have said about a dozen people have left Minnesota to join jihadi groups in Syria.
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