Plea deal expected for Somali terror suspect

Salah Osman Ahmed
Salah Osman Ahmed of New Brighton, Minn. has been charged with providing material support to terrorism, and conspiracy to kill people outside of the U.S. He is in custody in the Anoka County Jail.
Photo courtesy of Anoka County

One of two Minnesota men recently indicted on terrorism-related charges has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

A federal grand jury indictment accused Salah Osman Ahmed of New Brighton of traveling to Somalia to fight alongside a group of hard-line Islamists. The 26-year-old security guard was charged with supporting terrorism, conspiring to kill people abroad, and lying to authorities.

Ahmed's attorney, Jim Ostgard, said that his client will plead guilty to supporting terrorism at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday. As part of an agreement with prosecutors, all other charges will be dismissed.

Ahmed's attorney said his client went to Somalia, in December of 2007, to fight the Ethiopian troops that were occupying his home country -- "not for the purpose of making bombs."

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A friend told Minnesota Public Radio News that Ahmed was able to escape the group known as Al-Shabaab shortly after arriving in Somalia in December 2007. The friend said Ahmed told others in the group that he needed medical attention for his allergies.

Ahmed and another man with Minnesota ties, Abdifatah Isse, escaped together shortly after arriving in Somalia and eventually made it back to the U.S.

Isse pleaded guilty in April and is cooperating with authorities.

Abdifatah Isse
Abdifatah Yusuf Isse is one of two Somali-Americans indicted by a federal grand jury on terror charges.
Photo Courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Office

Ahmed and Isse were among as many as 20 young men who traveled to Somalia to possibly fight. Family members say at least three others have been killed, including Shirwa Ahmed, who the FBI has said was the first known U.S. citizen to carry out a suicide bombing when he died Oct. 29.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a socialist dictator then turned on each other, causing chaos in the African nation of 7 million.

Islamic insurgents with alleged ties to al-Qaida recently intensified their efforts to capture the capital city, Mogadishu.

Minneapolis has the nation's largest concentration of Somali immigrants. Census figures estimate about 32,300 Somalis live in Minnesota, but local advocates say the number is much higher.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)