Judge OKs home release for MN man convicted of threatening FBI agents

Mohamed Ali Omar and his mother, Fadumo Hussein
Mohamed Ali Omar and his mother, Fadumo Hussein, walk out of the U.S. District Courthouse in Minneapolis Tuesday.
Laura Yuen | MPR News

Updated: 4:35 p.m. | Posted: 12:02 p.m.

A man who was convicted of threatening FBI agents and an interpreter who came to his house was allowed to go home Tuesday as he awaits sentencing.

A judge's decision to release Mohamed Ali Omar was a partial victory for a family that has two other sons accused of trying to join terrorist groups overseas.

Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis postponed Omar's sentencing until September while he waits for clarification from the federal Justice Department on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a separate case.

Omar, who has been detained since November, was released to his home where he'll be subject to electronic monitoring.

"I'm feeling great. I'm feeling better than ever," said Omar, who was flanked by his lawyer and family members as he left the court building.

Evidence at trial showed Omar had a verbal confrontation with agents and a Somali interpreter, resulting in Omar saying, "I'll knock your [expletive] in" and telling them not to return to the house.

He was later charged with making threats to impede a federal investigation and retaliation against federal officials.

Agents were investigating his brother, Guled Omar, in connection with the investigation into Minnesota men trying to join ISIS in Syria. Guled Omar has since been charged by federal officials on terror related counts.

Another brother, Ahmed Ali Omar, is considered a fugitive. He was charged with joining the terrorist group al-Shabab in Somalia.

Mohamed Omar's attorneys said he was reacting angrily after the interpreter called his sister "qashimad," a Somali slur for women that translates to "trash."

The interpreter admitted in court that "it was a terrible thing to say to a lady," according to Omar's attorney, Paul Applebaum.

Omar said he was defending his sister because the word the interpreter used was a "very degrading, insulting name. Once my sister was disrespected, I just made a few warnings. That's pretty much what it was."

He said the agents were in street clothes when they came to his house and did not identify themselves as FBI.

The FBI declined to answer specific questions about the confrontation.

Kyle Loven, a bureau spokesperson for the Minneapolis division, said the FBI stands by the verdict in Omar's case.

"All of the evidence, all of the interactions between the parties, were presented before the jury, and the jury rendered its decision based upon the facts and the information that was presented to them," Loven said.

Davis said Tuesday that he received a letter from Omar that made an impression on him.

"You apologized for what happened and I take that at face value," he told Mohamed in court Tuesday. "I don't disagree with what you told me. That's why it's an easy position for me to release you."

Davis called it a "complicated legal issue and I want to take it slow. I don't want you to have a wrongful conviction just to rush through."

Omar said he told the judge that he could have handled the situation differently and wasn't serious about doing what was alleged. "I let my emotions get to me at the time," he said.

Omar's mother, Fadumo Hussein, said now that one of her sons was released, she's feeling a bit relieved.

"Our kids are American. They don't hate America; they love it," she said. "We don't want people to think we hate this country."

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