MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three weeks of testimony and cross-examination came to an end Friday. Only one of the defendants, 21-year-old Guled Omar, took the stand in his own defense.
The defense rested its case after putting Omar, its only witness, on the stand.
On Thursday, Omar was confident and relaxed when he was questioned by his attorney. During Friday’s cross-examination, he was different. He appeared unsure and sounded defensive during prosecutors’ questioning most of the day.
The government played several taped conversations with Omar and their confidential informant, Abdirahiman Bashir. During the cross-examination, Omar acted as if what he said on the recordings was taken out of context, saying he “could not hear what was being said or it was confusing.” He answered many questions with “I don’t remember.”
Prosecutors concentrated on the May 2014 attempt to leave for Syria where Omar, Bashir and Yusuf Jama planned to drive to San Diego. Omar’s family found out about the plan and stopped them.
Omar said the trip was a reward for doing well in his first year of college. Prosecutors showed his final grades from that time, proving he failed one class, withdrew from another and got a B in Arabic.
They asked him: “Is it true you only went to college to learn Arabic and get $5,000 to travel to Syria?” Omar answered, “Who told you that?”
Omar was also questioned about another attempt to get to Syria in November 2014. He was stopped by the FBI while trying to board a plane at MSP airport. He was asked to answer some questions, but he left.
Prosecutors asked Omar about his social media friends who have connections to terrorist groups.
Prosecutors pounded Omar with statements from the informant that pointed to him as the leader of the group, and a recruiter. Omar said “I never recruited anyone.”
Omar was calm during his attorneys’ redirect. He said not all the statements he said in the recordings were true. He says he was only boasting with friends to sound tough, and that he did not remember a lot of what was said because the statements had no meaning to him, it was just talk.
On Tuesday morning, closing statements begin, and then the jury will receive their final instructions before they begin deliberations.