MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Following reports that a Minnesota man accused of trying to join ISIS is suffering in prison, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger issued a statement detailing why the man is being treated differently than others who’ve been accused of trying to join the terrorist group.
Omar is currently being held in Ramsey County Jail, waiting to stand trial in February.
His attorney has written two letters to U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis, complaining that his client is the only one of the five defendants being held in solitary confinement and that he “is not allowed access to television or reading materials.”
Omar’s mother told Esme Murphy last week that her son is “suffering greatly.”
In a letter to the court on Friday, however, the U.S. attorney wanted to clear up why Omar is being treated differently.
While Luger didn’t discusses whether or not Omar is being held in solitary confinement or if he has access to TV, he did explain why Omar is at Ramsey County Jail and not Anoka County Jail, where other terror suspects are being held ahead of trial.
Luger said that when Omar was at the Anoka County Jail, where the other suspects are, he repeatedly tried to contact 18-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf, who’d already pleaded guilty to trying to join ISIS and was cooperating with authorities.
Even after he was transferred back to Anoka County following complaints from his attorney, Omar again tried to contact Yusuf.
“While Omar has denied the allegations that he has tried to intimidate or harass a cooperating witness, it was deemed prudent to have the two separated, which has been the case ever since,” Lugar wrote. “To my knowledge, we have received no reports that other defendants have tried to contact Yusuf, and no other defendants have been moved for this reason.”
As to the question of whether or not Omar is suffering or distressed in Ramsey County, Luger says he’s heard nothing to indicate that Omar is under the sort of duress reported last week.
The U.S. Attorney said he had Omar’s phone calls in jail reviewed so as to assess his well-being. The complaints that came up reportedly concerned the jail’s food and his want of a sweatshirt.
Luger said he personally reviewed one of the calls and found Omar to be “alert, actively engaged and upbeat.” He allegedly told a friend he’s “lovin’ it in here” and uses his time to study the Quran.
Luger asked that the recorded calls be made available to the court. He also asked that any evidence from the defense of Omar’s suffering in Ramsey County Jail be made available so that his office could review it.