By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the three defendants in the Twin Cities terror trial took the stand Thursday afternoon in his own defense.

Guled Omar, 21, is the only one who decided to testify in the trial. He is facing charges of trying to join ISIS and conspiracy to commit murder overseas alongside 22-year-old Abdirahman Daud and 22-year-old Mohamed Farah.

The defendants all face a maximum of life in prison if convicted on all charges.

Prosecutors have made it clear throughout the trial that they believe Omar was the leader of a group of 10 young Minnesota men who were charged in this case.

Web Extra: Minneapolis Terror Trial Timeline

Six of the men have pleaded guilty. One, Abdi Nur, left Minnesota in May of 2014 and is widely believed to have died fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Under questioning from his own defense attorney, Omar denied Thursday that he tried to leave the country in 2014 to join ISIS.

He broke down as he described how his older brother, Ahmed Omar, had left the Twin Cities in 2007 to fight for Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Fadumo Hussein, Omar’s mother, as well as the mothers of the other defendants, wept in the courtroom as he testified.

“My son has exposed today in the courtroom … how law enforcement and FBI [are] unjustly targeting in my community and my family,” said Hussein through an interpreter.

Omar also denied giving a cooperating witness, Abdullahi Yusuf, $200 to get an expedited passport.

“That’s a big lie,” he testified.

Omar will continue his testimony on Friday morning. Daud and Farah will not testify or call witnesses in their defense.

Esme Murphy