FBI: Minn. al-Shabab recruiting suspect not coerced under questioning

Mahamud Said Omar
Mohamud Said Omar, 43, seen here in a family photo in front of his former Minneapolis apartment complex, was arrested in the Netherlands. He is accused of bankrolling the purchase of weapons for Islamic extremists and helping others travel to Somalia in 2007 and 2008, but Omar's family says he was too poor to finance terrorists and was not an extremist.
Photo courtesy Abdullahi Said Omar

An FBI agent testified in federal court Wednesday that a former Minneapolis man accused of financing the travels of al-Shabab recruits was treated fairly during questioning.

The federal government said Mahamud Said Omar, 46, helped pay for several young Minnesota men's trips to Somalia and even bought their AK-47 rifles. In 2008, Omar applied for political asylum in the Netherlands. Dutch authorities arrested him a year later at the request of the FBI.

FBI Special Agent Kiann Vandenover said in interviews Omar appeared alert and repeatedly waived his right to have a lawyer present. But Vandenover said he did appear agitated at times. Months later during a second round of interviews at a Dutch prison, he twice broke down crying.

Omar's attorneys argue that he was in solitary confinement and did not have the will to be questioned. They're asking a judge to exclude his statements at trial.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Defense attorney Jon Hopeman said he is "90 percent" confident his client will go to trial rather than take a plea deal.

On Wednesday, the government also called as witnesses two Dutch authorities: an immigration official familiar with Omar's asylum case and a police commissioner who helped track down Omar in a "bungalow park" housing asylum seekers. Defense attorneys are asking the judge to suppress evidence obtained through wiretaps and through searches conducted at the asylum-seeker center.

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