MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The mother of one of the five young terror suspects is speaking out, saying her son is being treated more harshly than the four other suspects.
Fadumo Hussein’s son, 20-year-old Guled Omar, is being held in the Ramsey County Jail.
The five co-defendants are scheduled to stand trial on terror charges in February.
Hussein says this is especially difficult for her family because of the loss of Guled’s older brother, Ahmed Ali Omar.
Ahmed Ali Omar has been a fugitive since 2009 and has been charged with fighting for al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Hussein is a single mother of 13 children. Through translator Sadik Warfa, she spoke out Monday against what she says is the harsh treatment of Guled in the Ramsey County Jail.
“He is suffering greatly at this moment,” she said through the interpreter.
Guled Omar’s attorney has written two letters to federal Judge Michael Davis, complaining that his client is the only one of the five defendants being held in solitary confinement and “is not allowed access to television or reading materials.”
“The only thing she can assume is that they are putting him under pressure so he can take the plea deal,” Warfa said.
Three of the nine defendants accused of trying to join ISIS have taken plea deals in the case.
Hussein says her son was repeatedly threatened that if he did not also take a plea deal he would face stiffer charges.
Last week, additional charges were added for Guled Omar and the others who hadn’t pleaded guilty.
One of the new charges — conspiracy to commit murder outside the U.S. — carries a possible life sentence.
Hussein says her son has no regrets over not taking the plea.
“He has not committed any crime,” she said through Warfa. “Why does he have to take a deal?”
Hussein says it would be wrong if Guled’s harsh treatment was somehow linked to the fact his older brother is also a terror suspect. Guled Omar is believed to have left in 2007 with the first wave of young Minnesotans to go overseas.
“[Hussein] doesn’t know if her elder son died or is alive,” Warfa said.
On Monday afternoon, WCCO-TV learned that the conditions of Guled Omar’s incarceration have changed.
Sgt. John Eastham of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office said Omar is “not in solitary confinement and he is not in a cell 23 hours a day.”
Glenn Bruder, Guled Omar’s attorney, said that is new information to him and that as of last week, when he last spoke to his client, he was being held in solitary confinement.
The U.S. Marshal’s Office also said in a statement that if a prisoner fails to comply with the rules of the institution in which he is housed, the prisoner can “lose privileges.”