By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The star prosecution witness in the trial of three young Minnesota terror suspects took the stand Wednesday. Prosecutors say he initially tried to join ISIS.

In January of 2015, Abdirahman Bashir became an FBI informant. He secretly recorded conversations with the three defendants, as well as with a number of other young men who have pleaded guilty in the case.

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The slender 20-year-old took the stand late Wednesday afternoon, and prosecutors almost immediately asked him if he had ever tried to join a terrorist organization. Bashir replied yes.

Bashir’s role is critical in the case. Not only was he a part of the alleged conspiracy, but the secretly taped recordings he made of the other conspirators are considered critical evidence. That’s because — according to quotes in court documents — the defendants admit to the conspiracy on the tapes.

Bashir said he became attracted to jihad by watching ISIS propaganda videos. He testified his cousin was Hanad Mohallim, who left Minnesota in March of 2014 and died fighting for ISIS.

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He also said he was friends with Douglas McCain — another Minnesotan who died fighting for ISIS in 2014.

Family members and supporters of the defendants expressed their anger with Bashir

“When she saw Abdirahman Bashir in the court room, she saw a young man who was heavily paid and influenced by the government, and very well coached,” an interpreter for Ayan Farah — mother of two of the defendants in the case — told the media after the trial.

Last year, we learned Bashir had been paid $40,000 by the FBI since he began cooperating in the case, and that number has likely gone up since it was last reported.

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Bashir will likely take the stand Thursday and Friday, and the court will hear quite a bit from his secretly recorded tapes.

Esme Murphy