Jury finds Minn. man guilty in al-Shabab trial

Mohamud Said Omar
This undated file family photo made available by his family in Minneapolis shows Mahamud Said Omar, who was found guilty of providing money and people to al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated terror group at the center of much of the violence in Somalia.
AP Photo/Family of Mohamud Said Omar, File

A Minneapolis jury has found a Minnesota man guilty of helping the extremist group al-Shabab with logistical and financial assistance.

Mahamud Said Omar was found guilty Thursday on five terror-related counts and could face life in prison. Al-Shabab is a a U.S.-designated terror group at the center of much of the violence in Somalia.

Attorneys for Omar, 46, have said he was a simple janitor who wasn't capable of running anything.

Defense attorney Andrew Birrell also noted that three early Twin Cities recruits who testified against Omar had previously lied to the FBI and were going to receive lower sentences in exchange for their testimony.

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FBI Special Agent Kiann VanDenover testified earlier this week that Omar told federal agents he was a "team leader" for al-Shabab who escorted two young Twin Cities men to the airport in August 2008, knowing they were to join the extremist militia once they arrived in Somalia.

The government's evidence consisted of statements Omar made to the FBI, wire-tapped phone conversations, witness testimony and business records, such as phone bills and money transfers.

After the verdict, U.S. attorney B. Todd Jones said success in the case was the result of work between the U.S. Justice department's National Security Division and state and local agencies.

"While we applaud today's verdict, we must not forget about the families that continue to mourn the loss of their sons due to these illegal recruitment efforts by the terrorist organization al-Shabaab," Jones said in a release.

The case was the first to go to trial in the government's massive investigation into al-Shabab recruitment in the Twin Cities. Since 2007, at least 20 young Twin Cities men have left for the Horn of Africa, allegedly to take up arms in Somalia's civil war.

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