By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time we’re hearing from one of the 10 men arrested in Minnesota for allegedly trying to join ISIS.

Abdullahi Yusuf took the stand Friday to testify against his three friends who are on trial. Abdirahman Daud, Mohamed Farah and Guled Omar are charged with trying to join ISIS and conspiring to travel overseas to commit murders for the terror group.

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Yusuf took the stand and told the jury he purposely withheld information from federal agents after he agreed to help.

“I wanted to cover for my friends, I didn’t want them to go to prison,” he said.

Yusuf says he decided to come clean and provide information because “it was the right thing to do. I couldn’t cover for my friends anymore. I had to think for myself for once.”

Yusuf went on to talk about meetings at Al-Farooq mosque in Bloomington where he says he was officially recruited to travel to Syria to join a terror organization. Yusuf says it was Omar who told him, “What we are about to do is a long hard journey. If you want to go, you can, but if you turn and walk away now there will be no hard feelings.”

Yusuf told the jury, “I wanted to be part of it.”

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Yusuf says the group of men wanted to go to Syria and fight for ISIS. He says they sold phones, used financial aid from school and even talked about robbing people to get money for passports and tickets to get overseas.

“Guled Omar gave me $1500 in cash for an expedited passport,” Yusuf said.

Yusuf says Farah explained the application process and eventually took him to the passport office. Yusuf told the jury how the network of friends and classmates met three times a week in preparation for their journey.

Yusuf admitted he hopes his cooperation would lead to a lighter sentence. He took a plea deal for conspiracy to provide material support to a terror organization.

Yusuf was interviewed by the FBI a dozen times. Some of those interviews lasted all day.

He is expected to continue his testimony next week.

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According to court documents, Khadar Ali Omar, Guled Omar’s brother, was banned from the courthouse for the remainder of the trial for trying to bring in a pair of 6-inch scissors. Courthouse security cameras also observed Khadar Omar taking pictures of the elevators. When security confronted Khadar Omar, he turned over a second phone in order to conceal the phone used to photograph the courthouse.

Reg Chapman