U.S. Attorney: ISIS suspect tried to contact witness

A Minneapolis man who's facing terrorism charges tried to contact a government witness after both ended up in the same jail, Minnesota's U.S. attorney said Friday.

Guled Omar, 21, is awaiting trial on charges of attempting to join ISIS. Since his arrest in April, Omar has been transferred between different county jails.

In the most recent move on Sept. 9, Omar was transferred from the Anoka County Jail to Ramsey County. His attorney said Omar is living in "brutal conditions" since his transfer and has been denied family visits and the ability to review legal papers.

But on Friday, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said the reason Omar was removed from the Anoka County Jail was because the suspect made attempts to contact Abdullahi Yusuf, a man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS in February.

Yusuf, 19, a former student at Inver Hills Community College, is now cooperating with prosecutors and is expected to be called as a witness at Omar's trial in February.

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"When, as is the case here, a defendant repeatedly endeavors to make contact with a witness, the best practice is to separate the defendant from the witness," Luger said in a letter to the court.

The letter alleged that some people who visited Omar at the jail also "made unwanted visits to Yusuf" and tried to transfer messages between Omar and Yusuf.

But Omar's attorney, Glenn Bruder said the mutual friend, who is not named and made visits to Yusuf "was in fact placed on Yusuf's visitor list by Yusuf himself."

Luger also disputed reports about Omar's living conditions at the Ramsey County Jail.

He said he reviewed a recent call and video conversation that Omar had with some individuals.

"What we have found does not support the allegations that have been made," Luger wrote in the letter.

In one recent conversation, one of Omar's friends asked about the conditions at Ramsey.

'I'm lovin' it in here,' said Omar, according to Luger's letter, which also said Omar was studying the Quran.

"Omar's inflection, tone of voice and affect do not sound like a person suffering mentally or physically," Luger said.

Bruder said his client's jail situation has improved slightly, though he's still confined in his cell for more than 23 hours.